Three universities join forces to fight cancer with $17M grant
With a new $17.4 million grant from the National Cancer Institute, three Chicago universities will work together with the city’s underserved communities on cancer research, education, training and outreach.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Chicago communities that are low-income or predominantly African American or Latino have cancer death rates up to twice the national average.
The five-year grant will fund the Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative, led by researchers from UIC, Northwestern University and Northeastern Illinois University. The collaborative, the first of its kind in the Midwest, includes researchers and educators from diverse backgrounds and a range of academic disciplines.
An Oct. 23 kick-off event at the Arturo Velasquez Institute in the Little Village neighborhood launched the initiative.
“We have a strong commitment to serve our community and the needs of our students,” said Chancellor Michael Amiridis.
“This partnership expands on opportunities to educate and train a pipeline of minority and underrepresented students who are interested in pursuing health-related careers and develops a diverse workforce to meet the nation’s biomedical, behavioral and clinical research needs.”
“We are making exciting progress in the war against cancer. New approaches are emerging in cancer treatment, screening and risk reduction, but not everyone is benefitting equally from these advances,” said Leonidas Platanias, director of Northwestern’s Lurie Cancer Center.
“This award will support our efforts as an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center to community outreach and to reducing cancer health disparities in the communities that need it most.”
“We are so pleased to be able to continue our partnership with the Lurie Cancer Center and to add UIC to the very important partnership that began five years ago,” said Maureen Gillette, dean of the Northeastern Illinois University College of Education.
“This grant provides a unique opportunity to build on this work toward a more comprehensive approach to addressing the critical need for cancer equity.”
The collaborative will be led by Robert Winn, associate vice president for community-based practice at UI Health, professor of medicine and director of the University of Illinois Cancer Center; Melissa Simon, the George H. Gardner, MD professor of clinical gynecology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine; and Christina Ciecierski, associate professor of economics, and Moira Stuart, associate professor of health, physical education, recreation and athletics, Northeastern Illinois University.
Research will aim to improve cancer prevention, early detection, treatment and survivorship.
Activities of the Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative will include:
• biomedical, socio-behavioral, basic and translational science research on cancer disparities
• cancer education and outreach
• training and mentoring of minority and underrepresented students for health and cancer research careers
• career development and advancement of minority and underrepresented faculty.