The partnership between Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM), Tuskegee University (TU) and the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center (UABCCC) builds upon an existing partnership between these 3 institutions. Each institution brings to the table a unique set of strengths that effectively supplement the inherent weaknesses of the others. It is also worth noting that the Partnership is geographically located within the heart of the Southeast, a region with a large, historically underserved, African-American population. With this partnership ultimately existing to make a significant contribution to the elimination of the gap in cancer incidence, morbidity, and mortality between Whites and Blacks, the demographics of the available study population is highly relevant. This Partnership will build upon its progress in eliminating cancer health disparities. For over 15 years, each partner has brought expertise and resources to complement the others, to their mutual benefit and in making the Partnership an asset for addressing cancer health disparities in the Deep South.
In view of the unequal burden of cancer borne by African Americans, the location of MSM, TU, and the UAB CCC places this Partnership in an ideal geographic region to address cancer health disparities. The Partnership’s vision is to become nationally recognized for its contributions to the elimination of cancer health disparities, particularly in underserved regions.
For the Partnership, priorities include: 1) development of an integrated, efficient, and competitive program relating to basic, preclinical, clinical, behavioral, and community-based cancer research; 2) promotion and enhancement of integration of basic, clinical, and community-based cancer research; 3) improvement of educational programs to accelerate the development of cancer scientists committed to conducting cancer disparities research; 4) at TU and MSM, increase enrollment of undergraduate and graduate students with an interest in careers in cancer biosciences and link them to doctoral and postdoctoral programs at MSM, TU, and the UAB CCC; and 5) expansion of cancer outreach activities to develop hypothesis-driven research programs that increase use of, and provide access to, cancer care for traditionally underserved populations to eliminate cancer disparities in vulnerable populations in the region served by the three institutions. For example, at MSM and TU, an effective cancer education program to develop a pipeline of students (undergraduate and graduate) and junior faculty to pursue competitive careers in cancer research; and, at MSM and the UAB CCC, a multidisciplinary, community-based health care program. These programs serve as a national resource for cancer care and health disparity research.
Overall Goals and Specific Objectives:
The objectives have been developed through an ongoing process aimed at establishing intensive, competitive research programs at all three partnering institutions.
The proposed programs focus mainly on: 1) addressing cancer disparities at cellular and molecular levels (two full projects) and at the society/community level (pilot) through joint pilot and full research projects; 2) developing an integrated workforce of minority/majority investigators in cancer disparities research by innovating research education programs targeting undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty; and 3) meeting the needs of cancer survivors, at each institution, by utilizing a robust integrated navigation program through linking health system patient navigators and survivorship care plans with community-based patient navigators. These activities will lead to an: 1) increase in high quality, scientifically –sound, hypothesis-driven, evidence-based cancer disparities research; 2) increase in the number of undergraduate and graduate students pursuing careers in cancer research; 3) increase evidence-based cancer prevention and control programs at the community and health care settings, and 4) increase in community engagement and improved quality of life of cancer survivors.