Jefferson Health & Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation

Jefferson Health

Jefferson Health, an integrated health system and safety net providers in Philadelphia, received a $2.9 million grant to support a citywide effort to change the culture of lung cancer in the city by reducing the stigma, increasing health care provider knowledge and cultural competency, improving service flows, and connecting individuals at high risk for lung cancer with screening programs focusing on low incoming, African American, and recent Asian immigrant populations. As part of a $20 million initiative to improve pulmonary health, Jefferson has already secured an additional $14 million in philanthropic investment from individual donors, foundations, and corporations.


Philadelphia residents – for a variety of reasons – are at a high risk for lung cancer occurrence and death. First, Philadelphia has the highest rate of smoking among adults in the 10 largest U.S. cities: approximately 25% of the City’s population, or 375,000 individuals, smoke. Additionally, lung cancer is primarily a disease of the elderly and more than 20% of the population is 55 years and older. Philadelphia is a hub of diversity, with significant representation from a number of racial and ethnic groups with the largest African-American population in the state of Pennsylvania and a large and growing Asian demographic due to its popular resettlement location for immigrants from China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Laos. Smoking rates track closely with poverty, and 31.8% of low income residents in Philadelphia smoke and more than 400,000 residents live below the poverty line.


In response to the risks and impact of lung cancer on Philadelphia’s population, Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health, the largest integrated healthcare system in the Philadelphia metropolitan area and a safety-net healthcare system, will implement a collective impact initiative to change the culture of lung cancer and its care within the city. The project aims to establish lung cancer screening in Philadelphia as part of routine care similar to early detection measures for other cancer types focusing on high-risk and vulnerable populations. To achieve this, project activities will focus on increasing population and healthcare provider knowledge about lung cancer screening and treatment, reduce the stigma around lung cancer, and connect individuals at high risk for lung cancer with culturally competent and patient-centered lung cancer screening programs and needed follow up care.

Project Leader

Emma DelVecchio,