ChicagoCHEC Mourns the Loss of Renowned Cancer Researcher Richard Warnecke

Richard B. Warnecke, a longtime member of the University of Illinois Cancer Center and a national leader in cancer control research, died Friday, Aug. 19. He was 84.

For more than 40 years, Warnecke, PhD, conducted research and community outreach that provided immeasurable service to women with cancer. Long before “health disparities” became a category of research among federal and nonprofit funding agencies, Warnecke was committed to this mission. His effort was in addressing inequities in health outcomes, going well beyond simply identifying risk factors. He worked to develop and implement interventions that made a difference in so many women’s lives.

Early in his career, Warnecke’s research centered on the cancer information needs in Illinois, data systems, and cancer surveillance methods that strongly influenced the creation of the state cancer registry in the mid-1980s – a vitally important resource to both practitioners and researchers and key to helping monitor its progress in reducing cancer’s toll. Warnecke next turned his attention to the considerable problem of smoking among low-educated women, given that more women die from lung cancer than from any other cancer. With a collaborative group of multidisciplinary investigators, Warnecke led a team to develop a set of novel approaches to help women stop smoking.

Warnecke, professor emeritus of epidemiology, public administration and sociology at the University of Illinois Chicago, sustained a continuous and high level of funding from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). He was particularly skillful in conducting large-scale, multiple-component, community-based investigations, consisting of two program projects – Community Interventions for Cancer Prevention (1986-1992) and Strategies for Smoking Cessation Among Low Educated Women (1993-1998).

As director of the Health Policy Center, Institute for Health Research and Policy, and Associate Director for Population Health he led three center grants – the Center for Population Health and Health Disparities (2003-2015) and the Center for Excellence in Eliminating Health Disparities (2009-2015). Warnecke graciously served on UI Cancer Center’s NCI ChicagoCHEC (Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative) Internal Advisory Committee and on the ACS-Illinois Cancer Health Equity Research Center grant’s Community Advisory Board.

Utilizing the two Center grants, Warnecke’s team of researchers worked to better understand why Black women with breast cancer are more likely than their white counterparts to be diagnosed with late-stage, high-grade disease and more aggressive subtypes of breast cancer. The investigations examined multiple potential levels of influence on these disparities, including neighborhood health resources, level of neighborhood social integration and support, and whether patient navigators can improve the timing and quality of treatment of poor women with breast cancer. Warnecke and his colleagues also conducted genetic analyses to help understand these disparities between Black and white women in disease stage and outcomes.

In his distinguished career Warnecke published more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers along with several book chapters, and garnered more than $40 million in NIH funding focused on addressing health disparities. He made a special effort to recruit and mentor junior investigators from underrepresented minority groups. In 1992, he began a federally funded Cancer Education and Career Development training program for doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows in multidisciplinary cancer control and prevention research, now in its 30th year. He was influential in launching the careers of many researchers who followed in his footsteps to address health disparities.

Although he officially became emeritus in 2007, Warnecke remained actively involved in his pursuit of cancer prevention, and he was continually pursuing innovative research ideas to help improve the lives of those at-risk.

Warnecke, who served as associate director of the Cancer Center’s Population Sciences, Cancer Control and Education program, was the recipient of numerous accolades. Among the awards was a gift he received from former Cancer Center Director Robert Winn, MD, at an event at UIC sponsored by the American Association for Cancer Research Minorities in Cancer Research annual meeting in 2018. The award recognized Warnecke’s tireless work in cancer disparities research.

Warnecke’s legacy will live on through the countless lives saved due to his work and the hundreds of students, trainees, faculty and staff who have been touched by his experience, mentoring, wisdom and generosity of heart.

Services will be held at First Presbyterian Church of Evanston, 1427 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Ill., on Sept. 10, 2022 at 4 p.m. A reception will follow the service; all are welcome.

If you would like to make a donation ‘in memory of Dr. Richard B. Warnecke,’ please do so here.

Northeastern Illinois University Students Recognized for their Research and Presentation Skills on the WeCanManage ChicagoCHEC Project at the 2021 SACNAS National Diversity in STEM (NDiSTEM) Digital Conference!

Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) awarded 98 graduate and undergraduate students for their research and presentation skills at 2021 SACNAS National Diversity in STEM (NDiSTEM) Digital Conference during a live-streamed ceremony presented by Huawei USA on Friday, October 29, 2021. Out of 870 total presenters, over 700 were first-time presenters and over 400 are first-generation college students.

“The Student Presentation Awards recognize the next generation of scientists and STEM leaders from historically excluded populations, while giving visibility to their research and home institutions. The awards also encourage students to continue pursuing the STEM fields,” said SACNAS President Dr. Pamela Padilla. “As a multidisciplinary scientific society, the opportunity to present research to a general scientific audience fosters the science communication skills needed to not only build public support for science, but also ensure that science is accessible to everyone.”

We are proud to announce that Jocelyn Sotelo (NEIU Computer Science Student) won the Outstanding Undergraduate Presentation in Computer Science for her presentation on the WeCanManage prototype development process!

ChicagoCHEC also recognizes Paulina Morales (Computer Science student at NEIU) who worked very closely with Jocelyn and completed her own stellar presentation on the persona development process that informed this work.

Also congratulations to Rachel Adler (NEIU, mPI) on her mentorship of these two students to take a leadership role in this phase of the project.

SACNAS Presentation Titles

  • Developing a Prototype of a Self-Management Application to Empower Cancer Survivors with Disabilities by Jocelyn Sotelo1, Paulina H. Morales1, Lauren Dimayuga2, Beija Teolis2, Susan Magasi, Ph.D.2, Rachel F. Adler, Ph.D.1
  • Applying a User-Centered Co-Design Approach to Discover the Challenges of Cancer Survivors with Disabilities by Paulina H. Morales1, Jocelyn Sotelo1, Lauren Dimayuga2, Beija Teolis2, Susan Magasi, Ph.D.2, Rachel F. Adler, Ph.D.1

1Department of Computer Science, Northeastern Illinois University 2Department of Applied Health Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago.


For over 48 years, SACNAS has served as an inclusive organization dedicated to fostering the success of Chicano/Hispanics & Native Americans, from college students to professionals, in attaining advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership within STEM. Today, the organization serves a growing community of over 28,000 supporters including 8,200+ members and 133 student and professional chapters throughout the United States, including Guam and Puerto Rico. SACNAS influences the STEM diversity movement through STEM outreach & advocacy, promotion of STEM leaders, and The SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference.  Learn more about SACNAS at sacnas.orgFacebook, or Twitter.

Candace Henley: One of Twenty Most Inspiring Chicagoans in 2019

Congratulations to Candace Henley, Chief Surviving Officer at The Blue Hat Foundation for being selected as one of twenty Most Inspiring Chicagoans who make the city a better place to live and work.

She will be honored at a Gala on September 26, 2019, at Galleria Marchetti, located at 825 W. Erie at 5:30pm.

For more information, sponsorship opportunities and tickets click here.

From StreetWise – Ms. Candace Henley’s Profile:

“Candace is a tireless advocate for colon cancer prevention and support.  Candace was a single mother who was raising five children who lost her car and home while battling colon cancer. Her own battle and the devastation it left on her life and that of her children inspired her to create The Blue Hat Foundation.  The organization is founded on unconditional support and compassion for people fighting colon cancer. Their mission is to provide education, information, and free screenings for colon cancer in minority and medically underserved communities. The Blue Hat Foundation started as a single event, “Blue Hat Bow Tie Sunday”—at one church in Chicago. The program is now in 15 churches and promotes “education through participation,” by asking the congregation to wear blue in honor of someone who is fighting or passed away from colon cancer. In addition to the Sunday events, The Blue Hat Foundation raises awareness about the disease’s signs, as well as shares stories of personal experience, through speeches, podcasts, articles and community partnerships.”


Learn more at The Blue Hat Foundation here:

Candace also spoke about the importance of diversity in clinical research at the All of Us Research Program launch event in May 2018 and at ChicagoCHEC’s Community Forum in 2017.

About StreetWise:

The StreetWise mission is to empower the entrepreneurial spirit through the dignity of self-employment by providing Chicagoans facing homelessness with a combination of supportive services, workforce development resources and immediate access to gainful employment.

StreetWise magazine is among the largest “street papers” in the United States and serves as a model for street papers across North America.

Its staff have received numerous national, state, and local awards for the quality of StreetWise offerings, its service to the homeless population of Chicago, and its importance to the community in general. Reporters and contributors include professional journalists, journalism students, StreetWise vendors, as well as clients from other Chicago area social service organizations.

StreetWise provides a flexible employment opportunity via the sales of StreetWise magazine. The magazine itself covers topics that can be defined as “socially conscious and Chicago-centric,” reporting on areas of homelessness, poverty and social reform as well as Chicago art, culture and more.