The research interests of Dr. Pal have consistently focused on epidemiologically-based studies focused on inherited cancer predisposition, including underserved populations. She has been involved in several educational and outreach activities pertaining to inherited cancer risk at the patient and provider level.
Her research has spanned the cancer prevention and control continuum, with evaluations of genetic etiology, cancer risks and outcomes, including efforts to investigate the etiology of breast cancer in high risk Black women. She has also investigated the delivery of genetic services, including issues related to identification and access to genetic services, as well as factors associated with quality of care. These efforts include the development of the Inherited Cancer Registry (ICARE) Initiative at Moffitt through which she has partnered with community practitioners to evaluate cancer risk management practices at both the patient and provider level. This type of partnership has focused on increasing the reach of genetics professionals and through leveraging their expertise for challenging cases yet enabling patients to remain in their community, allowing them better access to resources for long-term follow-up care. In fact, this initiative has resulted in the creation of an infrastructure to support research, education, and outreach focused on genetic risk assessment for inherited cancer predisposition. Moreover, education and outreach about inherited cancer predisposition is provided by the ICARE study team through development of a network of healthcare providers (called ‘ICARE Partners’) who offer genetic testing services across the state and beyond, with the overarching goal of enhancing the provision of genetic services. Free resources provided to ICARE partners include access to: 1) a bi-monthly virtual case conferences during which interesting and challenging cases are presented, 2) a bi-annual newsletter which includes recent clinical and research updates, and 3) ICARE-based experts for general inquiries. As an offshoot of our educational and outreach efforts, ICARE Partners refer high risk patients to the research registry to provide the research link for patients interested in participating in studies about inherited cancers. This referral mechanism, in turn, has contributed to the tremendous growth of the registry since initiation of the effort in 2010 with over 1400 individuals recruited to date, including 900 individuals with BRCA mutations (more information about ICARE is available at inheritedcancer.net).