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Cancer disparities grant with Meharry, TSU gains renewal

Oct. 20, 2016, 8:36 AM

A multi-year collaborative cancer research effort among Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), Meharry Medical College (MMC) and Tennessee State University (TSU) will receive continued federal funding through the renewal of U54 Partners in Eliminating Cancer Disparities Grants from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a division of the National Institutes of Health.

This is the 17th year of funding for the research partnership (which added TSU in recent years), designed to identify the causes of racial disparities in cancer incidence and death rates between blacks and whites and to develop remedies for those disparities. The grants are slated to provide research funding for five additional years.

The Cancer Partnership, which also is designed to build cancer research capabilities, will bring underrepresented minority high school students and undergraduates to Vanderbilt for science training, in addition to providing new training opportunities at MMC and TSU.

Harold (Hal) Moses, M.D., Ingram Professor of Cancer Research and director emeritus of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, and Ann Richmond, Ph.D., Ingram Professor of Cancer Research, are co-principal investigators for VUMC’s grant.

Samuel Adunyah, Ph.D., professor and chair of Biochemistry and Cancer Biology, and Philip Lammers, M.D., M.S.C.I., assistant professor of Internal Medicine, are the leaders for MMC; and Baqar Husaini, Ph.D., professor emeritus and director emeritus of the TSU Center for Health Research, and Margaret Whelan, Ph.D., professor of Chemistry, lead the TSU program.

“We are proud of the continued NCI support for one of the most successful and longstanding cancer research partnerships in the country,” said Moses. “The collaboration is built on a foundation of mutual respect and a willingness to collaborate on these important research initiatives.”

Richmond said each institution brings specific strengths to the research effort.

“The Cancer Partnership provides an exceptional environment to focus the efforts of diverse investigators working across many disciplines to address health disparities and to enhance the research infrastructure, capacity and effectiveness of minority-serving institutions,” said Richmond.

Incidence rates for many forms of cancer are higher among African Americans than whites, and age-adjusted death rates are substantially higher among African Americans than whites for about two-thirds of all types of cancers.

The disparities research by the three Tennessee-based institutions is vitally important because the Southeast region has the highest cancer incidence in the U.S. and one of the highest rates of tobacco use, which is linked to many forms of cancer.

The new funding will support four projects:

  • Development of personalized smoking cessation and treatment programs through the Southern Community Cohort Study
  • Study of the impact of high salt consumption and its effect on the tumor microenvironment in breast cancer
  • Study of the mechanisms of SKP2 kinase-associated protein and androgen receptor signaling and the effect on suppression of prostate cancer
  • Pilot project to study the roles of inflammation and immune response in forging a link between obesity and ovarian cancer

With the new round of funding, the Cancer Partnership will expand access to clinical research trials for minority populations served by Nashville General Hospital (NGH)/MMC, and improve the effectiveness of Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) research, career development, education and outreach activities specifically designed to benefit minority populations served by VICC.

For more information about the NCI grant programs and this initiative (U54CA 163072), visit

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