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Mayuko Ito Fukunaga, MD, MSc

Mayuko Ito Fukunaga

By Merin C. MacDonald | Date published: January 16, 2024

January Researcher Spotlight: Mayuko Ito Fukunaga, MD, MSc

In this month’s Researcher Spotlight, we feature the work of Mayuko Ito Fukunaga, MD, MSc, a physician and assistant professor of medicine in the Divisions of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine and Health Systems Science, and co-chair of the Cancer Screening Researcher Subcommittee at UMass Chan Medical School. Dr. Ito Fukunaga also serves as a task group member at the National Lung Cancer Roundtable.   


Ito Fukunaga's clinical work focuses on the early detection and diagnosis of lung cancer, and her research focuses on the implementation of lung cancer screening (LCS) utilizing health informatics and user-centered design. She received a K12 Implementation Research Career Award from the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a P50 pilot award from the National Cancer Institute, and two pilot awards from UMass Chan, to develop and test technology-assisted strategies to improve the core components of LCS, such as shared decision making, patient-provider communication of the results, and adherence to follow-up screening. Most recently, she received a K08 award from the National Cancer Institute to conduct a pilot study where she aims to compare a multi-strategy technology-assisted implementation program to usual care on lung cancer screening. The goal of her most recent study is to provide a foundation for a future large-scale trial to improve the uptake of and longitudinal adherence to annual lung cancer screening by supporting shared decision-making. In addition to her work in lung cancer screening, she is a data and safety monitoring board member on a U54 award from the NIH’s National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, “Center for Advancing Point of Care in Heart, Lung, Blood and Sleep Diseases (CAPCaT)”, where she is part of a team that is helping to support the development and testing of promising “late-stage” point of care technologies that can be rapidly deployed to enhance the diagnosis, monitoring, management and/or treatment of heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders.

Beyond her clinical work and research, Dr. Ito Fukunaga is passionate about her role as a mentor. She has mentored 12 individuals including medical students, residents, fellows and junior faculty, who have successfully advanced their careers and continue to use their skills in research and quality improvement to improve healthcare delivery. She currently serves as an advisor for the Medical Student Summer Research Project and is also a Capstone research project advisor at UMass Chan Medical School.  

Of her work at UMass, she said, “My research is about healthcare delivery of lung cancer screening and involves primary care, radiology, pulmonary, population health and clinical informatics. I appreciate everyone’s support and mentoring across departments and disciplines. I particularly appreciate [the] primary care teams and lung cancer screening program for letting me do this type of research in real-world clinical settings. People outside UMass including reviewers are always impressed that primary care teams helped me start my K12 project during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. I think this episode speaks of UMass’ commitment to support junior faculty’s research career development and to advance medicine and healthcare delivery. 

Dr. Ito Fukunaga earned her medical degree at Keio University School of Medicine in Tokyo, Japan. She completed her internal medicine residency and fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where she served as a chief medicine resident and chief fellow, respectively. She also holds a master’s degree in clinical investigation from UMass Chan Medical School. Dr. Ito Fukunaga joined the faculty at UMass Chan Medical School in 2016. Before coming to UMass Chan, she served as co-medical director of the multidisciplinary Thoracic Oncology Clinic at Maine Medical Center and contributed to the statewide lung cancer prevention and early detection initiative. 

We are grateful to Dr. Ito Fukunaga for her many contributions as a physician, investigator, and mentor in the Department of Medicine!