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Partnership brings together 2 health centers

UCI and CSU Fullerton will collaborate on researching cancer disparities

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: November 09, 2012 02:15 PM

In an effort to map and research the variations of cancer incidences, treatment and other factors among different populations in Orange County, researchers at the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at UC Irvine and Cal State University, Fullerton's Health Promotion Research Institute are collaborating in a newly formed partnership to learn more about cancer.

The National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, is funding the effort. The program is led jointly by UCI’s Dr. F. Allan Hubbell, professor emeritus of medicine, public health, and nursing science; and Sora Park Tanjasiri at CSUF, director of the Health Promotion Research Institute and professor of health science. The two schools will share $1.3 million in funding from the National Cancer Institute.

"The overall goal is to establish a collaborative partnership that will increase research at both institutions on cancer health disparities," Hubbell said. "By doing so, the partnership will contribute to reducing and eventually eliminating disparities in Orange County, leading to cancer health equity."

Among the disparities examined as part of the program will be the incidences of cancer across ethnic groups. Hispanics experience higher rates of cervical cancer, stomach cancer and liver cancer than non-Hispanic whites, for example. Non-Hispanic black men have the highest overall cancer incidence and mortality rates of any ethnic group.

"Cancer is the second-leading cause of death among all major ethnic groups," Tanjasiri said. "However, the risk of developing cancer varies considerably by ethnicity."

The partnership has two stated objectives. The first is conduct pilot research projects on cancer health disparities with the aim of submitting research proposals to the NCI and other funding agencies. Each project will be coordinated with two investigators, one from each campus. The partnership and funding will support four pilot projects. The second objective of the alliance is to provide mentorship and training in cancer research to the junior investigators acting as project leaders.

At this stage in the partnership, the first pilot project has been established and will focus on the disparities in social support, isolation and coping among cervical cancer survivors in Orange County. The project will be led by Mindy Mechanic of Cal State Fullerton, who specializes in social support and coping, and UCI’s Lari Wenzel, who specializes in cancer survivorship and quality of life.

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