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New $2 million programme aims at increasing diversity in cancer research

Published on 24/10/18 at 11:28am

The National Cancer Institute are developing a joint cancer drug discovery and development, and research education programme focused towards the development of treatments for cancers that have an increased risk of incidence and mortality  among underserved communities in the United States, including Latinos, African-Americans and Native Americans.

The programme which is being funded through a $2.17 million grant will see a partnership between the University of Houston, College of Pharmacy and the Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center (DLDCCC) at Baylor College of Medicine.

Diana Chow, UH College of Pharmacy Pharmaceutics professor and director of its Institute for Drug Education and Research commented: “Liver cancer has a higher incidence rate among African Americans and Hispanics than among Caucasians. Certain types of breast and prostate cancers have higher incidence and mortality in the African-American population," said Chow. The research will seek to find new drugs to treat these cancers using preclinical models derived from these patients.”

“We will use expertise in cancer drug discovery platforms at DLDCCC, and the experience and track record in cancer drug development at UH College of Pharmacy to improve outcomes in underserved communities across the nation.”

Meanwhile the partnership aims to address the lack of diversity within cancer research workforce through its research education scheme.

 “Much of the basic science and clinical trials data are available from primarily Caucasian populations, and so we understand less about cancers in minority populations,” Meghana V. Trivedi, an associate professor of Pharmacology and Clinical Pharmacy who is leading the cancer research education component of the programme, commented.

“One of our objectives is to educate students about different modalities of cancer research; you don't have to be a biology major to be a cancer researcher,” said Trivedi. “We'll be reaching out to students with different majors, encouraging them to explore careers in cancer research and join the effort to find a cure for cancer in underserved ethnic groups”

Louis Goss

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