NCI’s first award to ChicagoCHEC was announced in October 2015. Building on the momentum of the first five years, ChicagoCHEC plans to continue to support research on health inequities in cancer. A primary mission in the renewal is to engage communities that are disproportionately impacted by cancer health inequities in Chicago with cancer-related programs and outreach activities, and coordinate research education and mentoring opportunities to advance a pipeline of diverse students and early career faculty in cancer research careers. Lastly ChicagoCHEC, will continue to leverage resources from all three universities involved in this unique tri-institutional partnership to advance cancer health equity across the city of Chicago.
Click here to read the full article regarding the COVID-19 outbreak featuring Edgardo Ramirez, Community Engagement Core Manager for ChicagoCHEC. ChicagoCHEC would like to thank Claudia Thrane for serving as a vehicle to amplify the voices of our families and communities that feel they have to hide behind the shadows during this difficult and dark time.
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.”
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.
Inspired by this year’s National Minority Health Month theme, Partnering for Health Equity, the NCI Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD) is celebrating its Partnerships to Advance Cancer Health Equity (PACHE) trainees in a new series of blog posts. We asked PACHE trainees and early-stage investigators to tell us about their work, partnerships, and mentors. Former ChicagoCHEC Research and Education Core Co-Leader from UIC and the University of Illinois Cancer Center, Dr. Yamilé Molina is featured in this PACHE Spotlight Blog Post. Click here to read more.
The American Lung Association has launched a new report, LUNG FORCE “State of Lung Cancer.” The LUNG FORCE “State of Lung Cancer” uses state-specific data and compares lung cancer incidence, survival, stage at diagnosis, surgical treatment and American College of Radiology accredited screening centers among states across the country. Through this report we will be able to identify trends and areas where states have the greatest need for added awareness and resources.
The report identifies potential interventions and provides a state-specific understanding of the burden of and opportunities to address lung cancer. The report includes state-specific measures of lung cancer incidence, five-year survival, stage at diagnosis, five-year survival by stage at diagnosis, surgery as part of the first course of treatment, and accredited lung cancer screening centers. States were ranked for each measure. Information is also shown for state-specific radon zones, smoking prevalence and particle pollution.
Attached is a one-page infographic on Illinois and additional details for our state can be found here.
In late 2017, we will release the call for applications for Cohort 3 of the ChicagoCHEC Research Fellows Program! Please feel free to hang the attached flyer in relevant areas of your organization/institution! For any questions, please contact [email protected]!
Join us for the 2nd Annual ChicagoCHEC Community Forum: Community Counts!
Date: Friday, September 22, 2017 Time: 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Place: Arturo Velasquez Institute
2800 S Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60608
Please join community & civic leaders, community members, healthcare leaders, students, and academic partners for the Second Annual ChicagoCHEC Community Forum to:
— Bring people together to address cancer issues — Be a call to action to address cancer inequities in Chicago communities — Learn more about cancer research, prevention, treatment, and survivorship
The event is free and open to the public. Space is limited.
Únase a los líderes comunitarios y cívicos, miembros de la comunidad, estudiantes y socios académicos en el Segundo Foro Comunitario de ChicagoCHEC para:
— Reunirnos y dialogar sobre temas relacionados con el cáncer — Tomar acción para mejorar las inequidades alrededor de cáncer en el área metropolitana de Chicago — Obtener información sobre los estudios médicos, sobre prevención, tratamiento y sobrevivencia del cáncer
El evento es gratis y abierto al público. Espacio es limitado.
Funding support for ChicagoCHEC is provided by the National Cancer Institute (grants U54CA202995, U54CA202997, and U54CA203000). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. ChicagoCHEC está financiado por el Instituto Nacional de Cáncer (propuestas U54CA202995, U54CA202997, y U54CA203000). El contenido es responsabilidad exclusiva de los autores y no representa necesariamente las opiniones oficiales de los Institutos Nacionales de la Salud.
Join us for a very special program with the family members of Henrietta Lacks
Friday, July 7, 2017
11 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.
(Lunch is from 11am – 12pm; talks and panel discussion from 12-2:15pm; and book signing and film screening of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks from 2:15 – 4:15pm)
UI Health Cancer Center invites you to a special community dialog with family members of Henrietta Lacks as they discuss the era of precision medicine, and the relationships between patients and medical researchers. The discussion will include:
Lacks family members: (Henrietta Lacks’ daughter-in-law, Shirley Lacks; Lacks’ granddaughter, Jeri Lacks Whye and Lacks’ great granddaughter, Veronica Robinson)
Robert A. Barish, MD, MBA, Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs & Professor of Emergency Medicine
Robert A. Winn, MD, Associate Vice Chancellor for Community Based Practice; Director, UI Health Cancer Center
Dara P. Richardson-Heron, MD, Chief Engagement Officer, National Institutes of Health All of Us Research Program
Karriem S. Watson, DHSc, MS, MPH, Director of Community Engaged Research and Implementation Science, UI Health Cancer Center
Lisa Anderson-Shaw, DrPH, MA, MSN, Director of the Clinical Ethics Consult Service, UI Health
Ashish Ansal, MD, Family Medicine, Mile Square Health Center, Englewood
UI Health Patient Brigade Members RoseMarie Rogers and Carol Gyimatey
Admission is free and open to the public. Seating is limited. Registration is required.
Sandra San Miguel from the National Cancer Institute, Melinda Monge, Community Health Educator from ChicagoCHEC and Colon Cancer Survivor Cristina Mendiola join “Health over Coffee Time/Cafe, salud y vida” with Dr. Elena Navas to discuss colorectal cancer awareness month. The interview is in both English and Spanish.
The interview will air this coming Friday 3/24 at 10 am and 5 pm (CST)!
MEDIA CONTACT: Kristin Samuelson at 847-491-4888 or [email protected]
FOR RELEASE: February 13, 2017
DR. SIMON APPOINTED TO U.S. PREVENTIVE SERVICES TASK FORCE
Northwestern physician joins panel that makes evidence-based recommendations on clinical preventive services
• Task Force makes evidence-based recommendations for preventive screenings, counseling services and medications
• Simon said appointment is “an amazing, pie-in-the-sky career goal”
CHICAGO — Dr. Melissa Simon, the George H. Gardner Professor of Clinical Gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, has been appointed to a national task force that makes recommendations on clinical preventive services, including screenings, counseling, and preventive medications on topics such as cancer and diabetes.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is an independent, volunteer panel of 16 national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine whose members come from many fields of preventive medicine and primary care, including internal medicine, family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, behavioral health and nursing.
The appointment is “an amazing, pie-in-the sky career goal,” said Simon, who also is the vice chair for clinical research in the department of obstetrics and gynecology and a professor in the departments of preventive medicine and medical social sciences at Feinberg. She began her four-year term with two other new members on Jan. 1.
The Task Force makes evidence-based recommendations on clinical preventive services for primary care clinicians and their patients.
“It’s quite a huge honor to be able to represent primary care providers, especially in the area of women’s health – and specifically in the area of obstetrics and gynecology – while at the same time championing recommendations that meet the needs of diverse populations at a national level,” Simon said.
“On behalf of my fellow Task Force members, I am happy to welcome Dr. Simon to the Task Force,” said Task Force chair Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo. “Her expertise in improving the health of women, racially/ethnically diverse communities and vulnerable populations will be a valuable addition to the Task Force.”
“I am proud to congratulate Dr. Simon on her new appointment,” said Dr. Eric G. Neilson, vice president for Medical Affairs and Lewis Landsberg Dean at Feinberg. “Melissa is a skilled physician and a passionate advocate for health equity, preventive medicine and women’s health, and I am confident that her skills and experience will be an invaluable asset to the work of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.”
To learn more about Dr. Simon and all members of the Task Force, visit the USPSTF’s members page.
The studies address disparities ranging from breast cancer among Hispanic women to prostate cancer in the African-American community.
Led by researchers from the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, Northeastern Illinois University and the University of Illinois at Chicago, ChicagoCHEC is a groundbreaking collaborative that fosters meaningful cancer research, education, training and outreach within the city’s underserved communities.
“Health inequities that harm Latinos, African-Americans and other underserved communities occur in many areas, including cancer, and ChicagoCHEC is dedicated to reducing and eliminating these disparities,” said Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, the event’s closing keynote speaker. “In addition to access to medical care as a basic human right, this collaborative looks to address the underlying conditions that cause these disparities by bringing together academic, health care and community organizations to work to achieve cancer health equity.”
Through activities such as the symposium, ChicagoCHEC is setting a new standard among funded projects by keeping the community informed on its progress and soliciting feedback about how to most effectively approach cancer disparity research differently. It is supported by a five-year, $17.4 million grant from the National Cancer Institute.
According to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, low-income Chicago communities that are predominantly African-American or Latino face cancer death rates up to double the national average.
“Our goal is to transform how community engagement and research are conducted, thus changing the architecture of how we collectively improve health equity,” said Dr. Melissa A. Simon, the George H. Gardner, MD, Professor of Clinical Gynecology in obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and co-director of the Lurie Cancer Center’s Cancer Control and Survivorship Research Program.
“In addition to community and institutional partnerships, supporting collaborative research to improve cancer prevention, early detection, treatment and survivorship is an essential element of this partnership,” said Christina Ciecierski, associate professor of economics at Northeastern Illinois University.
Of the six research projects funded in the past year, the three projects originally funded with the grant in October 2015 have made significant progress.
The Choose to Change project tests a new approach to reducing cigarette smoking among patients of Near North Health Services Corporation, a large safety net community health center in Chicago. Researchers on the project are closing first-round tests of a new one-step electronic referral and feedback system that connects more smokers from federally qualified health centers to free smoking cessation treatment at the Illinois Tobacco Quitline.
The WeCanConnect pilot aims to develop and evaluate a mobile app to promote peer support and information sharing among people with pre-existing disabilities who have been diagnosed with cancer by matching them to cancer survivor peers in the disability community. Experts in cancer care for people with disabilities (many of whom are cancer survivors with disabilities themselves) and members of the disability community are currently providing critical insights into their needs and priorities. As part of the project, UI Health’s Mile Square Health Center and the Program for Healthcare Justice for People with Disabilities will host ScreenABLE Saturday: A Celebration of Wellness for Women with Disabilities on Oct. 15. The centerpiece of ScreenABLE Saturday will be free accessible cancer screening for women with disabilities who are 22 percent less likely to get screening mammograms than their non-disabled peers.
The Mi Guía (My Guide) study aims to create and evaluate a smartphone app for English or Spanish-speaking Hispanic women completing treatment for breast cancer, which is the leading cause of cancer-related death for Hispanic women. Through the Mi Guía app, Hispanic breast cancer survivors will receive culturally relevant information to help them improve cancer-related symptoms and health-related quality of life. A group of breast cancer survivors has provided initial feedback to help refine content and design of the app.
Three newer research projects, funded in May of this year, are still in the organizational stages. These projects address prostate cancer disparities among African-American men, obesity intervention development for Puerto Rican and Mexican men, and colorectal cancer disparities on Chicago’s South Side.
“The racial and ethnic disparities in health care outcomes are an alarming and urgent public health issue,” said Dr. Robert Winn, associate vice president for community-based practice at UI Health, director of the University of Illinois Cancer Center and professor of medicine at the UIC College of Medicine. “We know the traditional top-down approach isn’t working, so it’s time to engage with the community in a new way to end these disparities.”
The Community Steering Committee of ChicagoCHEC is at the heart of the coalition’s efforts, according to Dr. Moira Stuart, associate professor of health, physical education, recreation and athletics at Northeastern.
“The 20-plus key community stakeholders on the committee represent the diversity of Chicago communities related to race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and disability,” Stuart said. “Our community steering committee is central to guiding the strategic efforts to foster meaningful partnerships across Chicago communities.” Click here for a Spanish article from La Raza highlighting the work of ChicagoCHEC Steering Committee Member Esther Sciammarella from the Chicago Hispanic Health Coalition.
The symposium featured a panel of public health care providers, a town hall forum and networking opportunities to mobilize Chicago communities in the areas of cancer survivorship, health care access and delivery, research and clinical trials, community capacity building and cancer health education.
During the town hall, community members expressed the desire to ensure they continue to be part of the conversation about improving health outcomes, to address language barriers in medical treatment and to engage with academic research activities. Click here for an interview of community members and breast cancer survivors Maria Constance Medina and Maria Mercedes Reyes from Spanish Public Radio by Dr. Elena Navas.
Dr. Linda Rae Murray, the former chief medical officer of Cook County Health and Hospital System, and breast cancer survivor Roz Varon, the Emmy Award-winning traffic and transportation anchor for ABC 7, delivered keynote speeches. Click here for video of Roz Varon at the Symposium from ABC 7.
The symposium served to kick off a series of local community events taking place in Chicago through 2016 and 2017.
The free, all-day symposium will be open to the public and provide a detailed look at the ongoing work of the ChicagoCHEC partnership, led by researchers from the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, the University of Illinois at Chicago and Northeastern Illinois University.
According to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, low-income Chicago communities that are predominantly African-American or Latino face cancer death rates up to double the national average.
“We’re establishing an innovative, community-driven and collaborative platform to foster meaningful cancer research, education, training and outreach across the Metropolitan Chicagoland area,” said Dr. Melissa A. Simon, the George H. Gardner, MD, Professor of Clinical Gynecology in obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and co-director of the Lurie Cancer Center’s Cancer Control and Survivorship Research Program. “Our goal is to transform how community engagement and research are conducted, thus changing the architecture of how we collectively improve health equity.”
The symposium will feature a panel of public health care providers, a town hall forum and networking opportunities to mobilize Chicago communities in the areas of cancer survivorship, health care access and delivery, research and clinical trials, community capacity building and cancer health education.
A diverse panel of cancer survivors will discuss their journeys, including how they have accessed services and how community organizations have supported them.
Dr. Linda Rae Murray, the former chief medical officer from Cook County Health and Hospital System, and breast cancer survivor Roz Varon, the Emmy Award-winning traffic/transportation anchor for ABC 7, will deliver keynote speeches at the event. Cook County Commissioner, 7th District, Jesus Garcia will deliver the final keynote address to close the event.
“The racial and ethnic disparities in health care outcomes are an alarming and urgent public health issue,” said Dr. Robert Winn, associate vice president for community-based practice at UI Health, director of the University of Illinois Cancer Center and professor of medicine at the UIC College of Medicine. “As we seek to end these disparities in Chicago, I am excited that three institutions are at the table — together with the community — asking how can we can better conduct research and reach diverse communities. We know the traditional top-down approach isn’t working, so it’s time to engage with the community in a new way.”
The community steering committee of ChicagoCHEC is at the heart of the coalition’s efforts, according to Dr. Moira Stuart, associate professor of health, physical education, recreation and athletics at Northeastern.
“The 20-plus key community stakeholders on the committee represent the diversity of Chicago communities related to race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and disability,” Stuart said. “Our community steering committee is central to guiding the strategic efforts to foster meaningful partnerships across Chicago communities.”
According to Christina Ciecierski, associate professor of economics at Northeastern Illinois University:
“In addition to community and institutional partnerships, supporting collaborative research to improve cancer prevention, early detection, treatment and survivorship is an essential element of this partnership.”
Joanne Glenn, co-chair of the ChicagoCHEC community steering committee, said she attended the town hall meeting last year that launched ChicagoCHEC because she wanted to hear about an effort that didn’t just “talk the talk.”
“ChicagoCHEC is a first-of-its-kind collaboration across academia, research and community in the Midwest, and I am honored to be involved in something that is addressing and identifying the community needs by involving diverse community partners and constituents,” Glenn said. “Thanks for ‘walking the walk,’ CHEC.”
The Symposium will kick off a series of local community events taking place in Chicago through 2016 and 2017. More information about ChicagoCHEC, the symposium and event registration can be found on www.chicagochec.org.
Join us on Thursday, September 29, from 8:30 AM-3:00 PM at Malcolm X College (1900 W Jackson Blvd, Chicago, IL 60612) for Keeping Cancer In CHEC: Bridging Communities Through Education, Healthcare, And Research, ChicagoCHEC’s First Annual Community Report & Symposium. Cancer researchers, medical providers, students, community-based organizations, and community members will come together to report ChicagoCHEC’s accomplishments in addressing cancer issues and lead the call to action to address cancer inequities in Chicagoland communities. There is no fee to attend this event and space is limited.
We all hear about the research that’s being done on pancreatic cancer, but not many of us get the opportunity to actually SEE it.
On Sunday, September 18, Dr. Paul Grippo is inviting the Chicago area to tour his pancreatic cancer research laboratory at UIC (840 S. Wood Street, Chicago). No tickets or RSVP needed; just come by any time between 1:00 and 4:00 and meet the man behind the microscope!
The tour is free and open to the public. Meet and greet researchers and your Chicago Affiliate Core Role Volunteers. Come join this great experience!!
CHICAGO — The Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative (ChicagoCHEC) has kicked off the inaugural Summer Research Fellows program. The ChicagoCHEC Research Fellows program is a comprehensive, paid eight-week summer learning experience for undergraduate and post baccalaureate students from Northeastern Illinois University, Northwestern University, University of Illinois at Chicago and the City Colleges of Chicago.
The program is focused on the development of academic, technical and professional skills in preparation for careers in social, behavioral and biomedical research and in health care. Through immersion experiences, group projects, journal clubs and mentoring, ChicagoCHEC research fellows will gain important knowledge, skills and networks for their journey to become researchers and health care professionals who can bring diverse perspectives and experiences to advance the nation’s work toward cancer health equity.
At the culmination of the eight weeks, fellows will have learned fundamental research practices and methodologies, pertinent research content topics (e.g. cancer inequity and recruitment of underserved minorities in clinical trials), social contexts for health inequity across the cancer continuum and critical professional development practices and networks
The program leverages the expertise of leading scholars and cancer researchers, health professionals, institutional leadership and community leaders across Chicago taking part as guest lecturers, project mentors and site visit hosts. The program is an opportunity to move the needle on health by expanding opportunities to the next generation in a way that also changes the architecture of collaboration, community engagement and the culture of research education to address health inequities.
The principal investigators include Dr. Melissa Simon of Northwestern University, Dr. Robert Winn of University of Illinois at Chicago, and Christina Ciecierski and Moira Stuart of Northeastern Illinois University.
The summer research fellows program is not the only initiative from ChicagoCHEC geared toward students.
“The summer research fellows program is the first of its kind to advance research, leadership and community engagement capabilities in this high potential group of underrepresented minority, nontraditional and first-generation college students,” Simon said. “But after a holistic recruitment and interview process, there was so much demand for the program and only 12 spots available. Hence, we started an affiliates program as a separate pipeline for future potential summer research fellows as well.”
Simon is vice chair of clinical research in obstetrics and gynecology, the George H. Gardner Professor of Clinical Gynecology and an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and of preventive medicine and of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
The ChicagoCHEC Catalyst & Incubator Grant Program is pleased to announce the 2016 grant recipients. All investigative teams have proposed novel approaches to addressing cancer disparities and are devoted to advancing cancer health equity through cross-collaboration, high-quality research and unwavering dedication to training and education. It is anticipated that all projects supported by the ChicagoCHEC Catalyst & Incubator Grant Program expand to become larger, long-term grants such as R01s.
Project 1 (Partnership Development Grant):
Reducing Colorectal Cancer Disparities on the South Side of Chicago through Cross-Institutional Collaboration
Principle Investigators: Danielle Lazar, AM, DrPH Candidate (Access Community Health Network), Kenzie Cameron, PhD (Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University), Hardik Marfatia, PhD (Northeastern Illinois University), Shan Wang, PhD (Northeastern Illinois University), Kameron Matthews, MD, JD (University of Illinois Chicago), Karriem Watson, DHSc (University of Illinois Chicago)
Project 2 (Proposal Development Grant):
Community-Engaged Obesity Intervention Development for Puerto Rican and Mexican Men
Principle Investigators: Lisa Sanchez-Johnsen, PhD (University of Illinois Chicago), Magdalena Nava, BA (Puerto Rican Cultural Center), Leonilda Calderon, BA (Puerto Rican Cultural Center), Amanda Dykema-Engblade, PhD (Northeastern Illinois University), Alfred Rademaker, PhD (Lurie Cancer Center)
Project 3 (Pilot Project Catalyst Grant):
Prostate Cancer Disparity in Chicago-Area African American Men: Patient-derived Models and Biomarkers of Cancer Risk
Principle Investigators: Larisa Nonn, PhD (University of Illinois Chicago), Sarki Abdulkadir, MD, PhD (Lurie Cancer Center), Cindy Voisine, PhD (Northeastern Illinois University), Adam Murphy, MD (Lurie Cancer Center / Jesse Brown VA), Marcus Murray, BA (Project Brotherhood)
The Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative (ChicagoCHEC) is a National Cancer Institute comprehensive cancer partnership led by the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, Northeastern Illinois University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Our mission is to advance cancer health equity through meaningful scientific discovery, education, training, and community engagement.
CHICAGO — A new $17.4 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) will help three Chicago universities work together with many of the city’s underserved communities to foster meaningful 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 face cancer death rates up to double the national average.
The five-year grant will support the creation of the Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative (ChicagoCHEC), led by researchers from the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and Northeastern Illinois University.
The collaborative held a joint community kick-off event Oct. 23 at the Arturo Velasquez Institute in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood to launch this initiative to help reduce the burden of cancer in low-income and racial and ethnic minority communities.
The effort is being led by community-oriented physician-scientists and researchers: Melissa Simon, MD, the George H. Gardner, MD, Professor of Clinical Gynecology in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine; Robert Winn, MD, Associate Vice President for Community-Based Practice at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences Systems, professor of Medicine, UIC College of Medicine and Director, University of Illinois Cancer Center; Christina Ciecierski, PhD, associate professor of economics at Northeastern Illinois University; and Moira Stuart, PhD, associate professor of health, physical education, recreation and athletics at Northeastern.
“Despite the existence of five academic medical centers and millions of dollars spent on cancer research and treatment of Chicago residents, we are still only in our infancy in responding to cancer health disparities,” Dr. Simon said. “We have been working on setting the groundwork and assembling this grant over the last five years as a way to move forward and foster the wonderful work of communities and organizations already working towards improving cancer equity.”
UIC and Northeastern are two institutions with well-known track records of enrolling and graduating students from minority and nontraditional backgrounds and that have longstanding partnerships with Chicago communities. A major goal for the collaborative is to build bridges between the Lurie Cancer Center and UIC and Northeastern.
“UIC plays a unique role in this partnership,” said Dr. Winn. “We have seven health sciences colleges that will contribute to achieving the objectives of the grant, as well as a network of federally qualified community clinics, our Mile Square Health Centers, that put us in direct contact with patient populations on the south and west sides of Chicago, which are disproportionately burdened by cancer. Additionally, the University of Illinois Cancer Center is integrated into our Mile Square Health Centers, so we are well-positioned to make a significant impact on reducing cancer disparities.”
Ciecierski of Northeastern, a native Chicagoan and first-generation American, said she is excited to be a part of such an important collaboration.
“The goal of our partnership is to connect with all Chicago communities,” said Ciecierski. “We will use the tools of education, research and advocacy to improve health among Chicagoans, especially those chronically underserved. As an educator, I know that training and community outreach will spread good health to all Chicago neighborhoods.”
In addition to community and institutional partnerships, one area of focus for the collaborative will be research to improve cancer prevention, early detection, treatment and survivorship.
“The efforts of this collaborative will enable us to develop programs that aim directly at the cause of disparities and empower those who are most severely impacted by cancer inequities,” said Stuart, who is also of Northeastern.
The collaborative is the first of its kind established in the Midwest and already includes more than 20 researchers and educators from diverse backgrounds and academic disciplines across 14 departments in seven schools from all three institutions.
The activities of the Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative will be focused on:
Establishing multidisciplinary research programs in cancer disparities, including those that incorporate biomedical, socio-behavioral, basic and translational science.
Mobilizing researchers, educators, community leaders, students, organizations and patients in innovative cancer education and outreach programs to improve health.
Providing training, mentoring and learning opportunities to recruit and retain minority and underrepresented students in health and cancer research careers.
Supporting the career development and advancement of minority and underrepresented faculty and scientists.
Leadership from the three universities share their support of this collaboration:
Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University
“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. 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.”
— Leonidas Platanias, MD, PhD, Director of the Lurie Cancer Center
University of Illinois at Chicago
“We have a strong commitment to serve our community and the needs of our students. 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.”
–Michael Amiridis, UIC Chancellor
Northeastern Illinois University
“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. The focus on cancer health disparities in underserved communities fits well within the mission of Northeastern. The work that we’ve done together with Dr. Simon’s team for the past five years has resulted in foundational research and scholarship by faculty and students from both universities. This grant provides a unique opportunity to build on this work toward a more comprehensive approach to addressing the critical need for cancer equity.”
— Dr. Maureen Gillette, Dean of Northeastern Illinois University’s College of Education