Skip to main content

Oluwadamilola “Lola” Fayanju, MD, MA, MPHS

Assistant Professor of Surgery


What is your specific area of interest in health services?
I am interested in using “big data” and sophisticated statistical analyses to reduce disparities after breast cancer diagnosis and to improve the value (i.e., outcomes achieved per dollar spent) of breast cancer care.

What is an example of your best work in health services research?
As a general surgery resident at Washington University in St. Louis, I conducted research that revealed that women served through safety-net primary care providers in the greater St. Louis area presented with higher rates of late-stage breast cancer compared to women who were privately insured. I also designed a mixed-methods prospective study investigating the reasons behind this disparity. The findings from this research led to a restructuring of the breast cancer referral process for underserved women in the St. Louis region. In addition, I examined perceived barriers to mammography among 9,000 women served by the mobile mammography program at Wash U’s Siteman Cancer Center to understand how adherence to screening recommendations could be improved within populations at risk for screening non-participation.

In your opinion, what is an important health services research question that needs to be answered in the field of breast cancer?
Overall, survival after breast cancer diagnosis has improved significantly at a population level over the past 30 years. But there continue to be many groups of women who fall through the cracks. We need to become better at identifying those at risk for poor outcome, anticipating the barriers to cure that these women might face, and systematically addressing those barriers. Because the outcomes after breast cancer are so good overall, it is difficult to design clinical trials that are sufficiently long and sufficiently powered to detect statistically and clinically significant differences with regards to many clinical risk factors and outcomes. Accordingly, I believe that prospectively accrued registries and other forms of “big data” provide important avenues through which population-level variation can be tracked, assessed, and incorporated into effective strategies for improvement.

What is a fun fact about you?
I have a Master’s in Comparative Literature with a focus on postcolonialism, and I love to write. If I hadn’t been a surgeon, I most likely would have been a movie critic or a freelance writer.