News Release

$26.5 million grant to fund first large-scale study of African-American men with prostate cancer

Grant and Award Announcement

Johns Hopkins Medicine

Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center will participate in a $26.5 million effort to conduct the first large-scale, multi-institutional study on African-American men with prostate cancer to better understand why they are at higher risk for developing more aggressive forms of the disease and why they are more likely to die from it.

The RESPOND study, funded by grants from the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities and the Prostate Cancer Foundation, and led by the Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California, will look at the role of social stressors and genetics in the development of prostate cancer in African-American men. Researchers hope to recruit 10,000 African-American men nationwide to participate in the study.

"African-American men have been disproportionately affected by prostate cancer, and this study brings together researchers from across the country to figure out why, enabling the threat of prostate cancer to be reduced for all men," said William Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., director of Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center.

RESPOND will focus on both biological and social factors that may influence the development of prostate cancer in this group. Social stressors such as discrimination, socioeconomic status, education, early life events and where men live will be assessed via an online survey. Studies have shown that stress affects health, but little is known about whether stress has an impact on the development of aggressive prostate cancer.

"The overarching goal is to determine which factors contribute to poor outcomes among African-American men with prostate cancer so that we can begin to improve survival and decrease racial disparities in this disease," Tamara Lotan, M.D., associate professor of pathology, said.

She said the study will be the first in any racial group to fully integrate genetic alterations with gene expression data, social determinants of health and markers of tumor aggression.

Men participating in the study will also be asked to provide a saliva sample and to grant permission for researchers to access their prostate cancer biopsy tissue. The samples will be used to identify genetic markers for prostate cancer and tumor characteristics, with a special emphasis on aggressive prostate cancer. All donated biological samples will be used solely for research purposes.

Pathology researchers at The Johns Hopkins University will perform centralized review of prostate tumor samples collected from 3,000 African-American men. They will grade and stage the tumors for changes related to adverse prognosis for further review.

The project's principal investigator, Christopher Haiman, Sc.D., professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School, said scientists will look at DNA variations associated with prostate cancer overall and for aggressive forms of prostate cancer that are lethal.


Other institutions participating in the study include Rutgers University, Public Health Institute, Emory University, Harvard University, Louisiana State University, Baylor University, Moffitt Cancer Center, Wayne State University and University of California, San Francisco.

The RESPOND study will be funded by grants from the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities and the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

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