MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — A Mobile healthcare professional received an almost million dollar grant to fight some of the U.S.’ most deadly cancers.

Annabelle Fonseca, M.D., M.H.S, is a surgical oncologist at USA Health and an assistant professor of surgery at the Frederick P. Whiddon College of Medicine. Recently, the National Institute of Health awarded Fonseca a more than $800,000 grant to research health disparities in upper-gastrointestinal (foregut) cancers.

According to the NIH, these cancers make up almost 20% of new cancer deaths in the U.S. each year and are especially impactful in Southern states. Fonseca remarked, “…there are a multitude of gaps in the care patients receive due to underlying factors, some of which can be changed.” Fonseca’s research will be focused on developing a system to identify at-risk patients early and improve the quality of care they receive.

Fonseca’s record of accomplishment includes a medical degree from Padmashree Dr. D.Y Patil Medical College in India, a Master of Health Science and current residency from Yale University, and a fellowship in complex general surgical oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Martin Heslin, M.D., M.S.H.A., the current director of the USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute remarked “Dr. Fonseca is a dedicated surgeon, researcher, and educator…We are fortunate to have her as part of our team at the MCI and USA Health,”.

Fonseca said she is honored to have received this grant and hopes to improve the quality and equity of care received by patients with foregut cancers. “[The grant] addresses a very important subject…We have a long way to go, and so many improvements can be made in this area.”