Marilyn A. Roubidoux, M.D., works to bring existing medical tools to the underserved to diagnose cancer and identify risk factors for the disease. As a member of the Sioux and Iowa Nations she has seen high incidences of cancer among American Indian and Alaska Native populations from a personal and a medical perspective. As a researcher, teacher, and physician, she has tackled the issue in a number of waysand by drawing national attention to this health disparity and raising awareness within at-risk communities.
Marilyn Roubidoux felt from a young age that her purpose in life was to minister to the sick. Because it was difficult for women to get into medical school and she wasn't sure how to reconcile her plans to get married and have children with her craeer, she didn't enroll in medical school until she was 32 years old. Eleven years after graduating magna cum laude from Brigham Young University with a bachelor of science in microbiology in 1969, she earned her doctor of medicine degree from the University of Utah School of Medicine in 1984. After a residency at the University of California, Irvine, she joined Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina as a resident in radiology and a fellow in abdominal imaging, before becoming an assistant professor of radiology there. Since 1992, she has been on the staff of the University of Michigan School of Medicine, becoming an associate professor in 1998.
Dr. Roubidoux's two major areas of research are cancer among American Indian and Alaska Native populations, and breast disease. Cancer has affected Roubidoux's ancestors and relatives, so she takes particular satisfaction in knowing that she is helping her biological family as well as her larger ancestral family. According to year 2000 statistics from the U. S. Department of Public Health and Human Services, cancer is the second leading cause of death among American Indians and Alaska Natives over age 45. A study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that overall death rates for the four top cancers increased 67 percent among American Indians and Alaska Natives from 1990 to 1998. Early and accurate diagnosis is particularly important for those who lack insurance or otherwise have limited access to health care, and, as a group, American Indians and Alaska Natives are second only to Hispanics in terms of the percentages of each group who do not have health insurance.
Happily, Dr. Roubidoux has been able to combine the family life she always wanted with the career she considered her personal mission. She is married to a physician and radiologist and has raised three daughtersall born before she entered medical school.
Dr. Roubidoux is widely published on the topic of cancer in American Indian populations and lectures regularly on the subject around the country. She is also a member of the Society of Breast Imaging, the Network for Cancer Control Research among American Indians and Alaska Natives, and the American Association of Indian Physicians.