AGE-WELL and Canadian Frailty Network announce award for outstanding early career cancer researcher

Dr. Jae-Yung Kwon, the recipient of an early career researcher award from AGE-WELL and Canadian Frailty Network (CFN).

Dr. Jae-Yung Kwon, whose work aims to improve quality of life for older cancer patients living with frailty, is the recipient of an early career researcher award from AGE-WELL and Canadian Frailty Network (CFN).

The grant will support Dr. Kwon, an assistant professor in the University of Victoria’s School of Nursing, to lead a pilot project designed to create a more personalized and empathetic cancer treatment experience for older adults living with frailty through improved clinician education.

By sharing patients’ health stories at the different stages of treatment, Dr. Kwon’s research will help inform clinicians about how they can improve patient-centred care and communication.

“With the wonderful support of AGE-WELL and CFN, we are positioned to expand our reach nationally and internationally, tapping into a well-established research network focused on improving the health and quality of life of patients,” says Dr. Kwon. “This funding is integral to moving closer to our goal of leveraging patient-reported data to improve the cancer treatment experience of older adults living with frailty.”

Dr. Kwon’s work was inspired by his own grandfather who passed away from lung cancer, and by feedback from the older cancer patient population that their holistic needs are typically not met. These individuals often have the added complexity of navigating cancer treatment while managing other chronic diseases or conditions, such as frailty. Dr. Kwon says that most of the existing clinical trial research for patients’ cancer experience does not fully capture data from older adults.

Creating personal digital journey maps

“All these patient data points have stories, which can be used to transfer knowledge to clinicians for enhanced individualized care,” says Dr. Kwon. “Through our team’s clinical knowledge and the use of patient-reported data and narratives, we have the opportunity to transform clinical education tools.”

Dr. Kwon is the first-ever recipient of an AGE-WELL/CFN Early Career Researcher Award. The new award supports researchers who are within the first five years of their academic appointment to build high impact through independent research programs. Proposals must focus on the real-world use and impact of AgeTech solutions to improve the lives of older Canadians living with frailty and their caregivers.

“We are pleased to support Dr. Kwon’s important and innovative work as part of our ongoing commitment to invest in early career researchers, who are the future of aging research and innovation,” says Dr. Alex Mihailidis, Scientific Director and CEO of AGE-WELL. “This award is an example of what AGE-WELL and CFN can make possible. Together, we can foster leading-edge health research programs that create knowledge to inform policy and practice, and advance research.”

“By engaging with older adults and capturing their perspectives, Dr. Kwon’s research project will highlight the nuances of their cancer care experience to inform clinician education for more personalized care delivery,” says Dr. John Muscedere, Scientific Director and CEO of CFN. “AGE-WELL and CFN are natural partners, and we look forward to bringing our complementary strengths to other initiatives that enhance the quality of life of older Canadians.”

Dr. Kwon is a registered nurse and completed his PhD in Nursing at the University of British Columbia.