Health equity initiatives receive funding from the American Cancer Society
The University of Illinois Chicago has received a $4 million, four-year grant from the American Cancer Society to establish the Illinois Cancer Health Equity Research Center, a solutions-oriented consortium of health care researchers and clinicians charged with improving outcomes in communities disproportionately affected by cancer.
The grant includes six project awards designed to achieve sustainable reductions in cancer health disparities and diversify the scientific workforce. Participating researchers will focus on overcoming biological and social factors that contribute to poor cancer outcomes among racially and ethnically underrepresented groups in Cook County, Illinois.
“As a Minority-Serving Institution, we’ve historically benefitted from a diverse group of physicians, clinicians, scientists and researchers who have an innate understanding of health inequity and a drive to address the underlying issues,” said Jan Kitajewski, director of the University of Illinois Cancer Center, which is part of UIC. “Our mission is to provide high-quality, personalized care to patients who suffer at the intersection of systemic marginalization and heightened biological risk.”
UIC and its health care system, UI Health, which includes Mile Square Health Center, a network of 12 federally qualified health centers, will leverage its diverse group of researchers, clinicians and patients to create equitable access to advances in cancer screening, prevention and treatment.
In addition to funding the health equity research center, the grant supports six projects led by cancer center researchers and designed to strengthen interdisciplinary science and create solutions to address the unmet needs of patients.
The following researchers will receive clinician scientist development grants:
- Dr. Keith Naylor, to address colon cancer risk in Black men and provide better care by navigating patients based on their family history.
- Dr. Patrick Smith, to develop a culturally specific method to engage Black men to get oral cancer screenings in conjunction with dental care.
The following researchers will receive research scholar grants:
- Yamile Molina, to address late-stage breast cancer diagnoses among Latino individuals related to social, biological and economic factors.
- Dr. Pamela Ganschow, to improve cancer screening among patients seeking primary care by focusing on genetics, family history and survivorship.
- Dr. Kent Hoskins, to improve access to clinical trials for Black individuals with breast cancer.
A post-doctoral fellowship grant has been awarded to Chinwe Ewenighi-Amankwah, who aims to understand molecular determinants of health, including the therapeutic implications of ACKR1 — a protein coding gene —mutations.
The American Cancer Society awarded over $16 million in grants to establish cancer health equity research centers at Minority-Serving Institutions.
“The American Cancer Society believes that everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat and survive cancer. This funding is an important step to achieving health equity, which is essential to achieving our mission and it’s a moral imperative,” Dr. Karen Knudsen, chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society, said in announcing the grants.