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Orange County partnership to target cancer health disparities

Irvine, Calif., Nov. 1, 2012 Researchers from UC Irvine's Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and California State University, Fullerton's Health Promotion Research Institute have formed a partnership to help reduce cancer disparities in Orange County.

The collaboration, the first of its kind between the two institutions, is led by Dr. F. Allan Hubbell, professor emeritus of medicine, public health, and nursing science at UCI; and Sora Park Tanjasiri, professor of health science and director of the Health Promotion Research Institute at Cal State Fullerton.

The two will receive $1.3 million in funding from the National Cancer Institute, which is part of the National Institutes of Health.

"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."

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

Hispanics, for example, have higher rates of cervical cancer, stomach cancer and liver cancer than non-Hispanic whites. And non-Hispanic black males have the highest overall cancer incidence and mortality rates of any ethnic group.

The alliance has two objectives:

  • One is to conduct pilot research projects involving at least one investigator at each institution on cancer health disparities that will lead to submission of research proposals to the NCI and other funding agencies. These projects will advance knowledge about cancer health disparities and, over the long term, help erase them. Funding will support four pilot research projects.
  • The second is to provide mentorship and training in cancer health disparities research to junior investigators in the pilot research projects thereby increasing the number of researchers in the field.

The first pilot research project will explore disparities in social support, isolation and coping among cervical cancer survivors in Orange County. The study will combine the complementary expertise of co-leaders Mindy Mechanic of Cal State Fullerton, who specializes in social support and coping, and Lari Wenzel of UCI, who specializes in cancer survivorship and quality of life. Three additional projects will be selected for funding through a competitive process during the course of the partnership.


Contact: Tom Vasich
University of California - Irvine

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