The University of Minnesota Medical School today announced the details of a $3.8 million grant by the National Institutes of Health's National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD) for research focused on minority recruitment and retention in cancer clinical trials. Although much is known about cancer incidence rates in minority populations, little research exists to understand behavior and social environment--the barriers and biases that limit participation and access to clinical trials. The Enhancing Minority Participation in Clinical Trials (EMPaCT) program aims to address these social issues.
This grant provides resources to explore the social issues that limit minority participation and access to cancer clinical trials. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, racial and ethnic minorities suffer more from cancer than the U.S. population as a whole, developing certain types of cancer more often with a greater chance of premature death due to late-stage detection.
Speaking to grant participants at an event on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., John Ruffin, Ph.D., director of the NCMHD said, "While minorities make up one-third of the U.S. population, few participate in clinical trials for various reasons including cultural or religious factors, lack of awareness, and a historical mistrust of the medical system. This research will start to identify and break down these racial and ethnic communications barriers, help to rebuild the community's trust, increase the participation and retention of racial/ethnic minorities in clinical trials, and will serve as a model that could be implemented at other cancer centers and hospitals nationwide."
To reach numerous African American/Black, Asian, Pacific Islander, Hispanic, and American Indian populations, the EMPaCT program has created a consortium of five U.S. regions with identified lead institutions in those regions. They include: John Hopkins University (east), University of Alabama at Birmingham (southeast), University of Minnesota (midwest), The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (south), and University of California, Davis (west).
"Increasing minority access to the best care that's already funded and available is a key goal of the EMPaCT research," said Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., Jay Phillips Professor, chairman of the University of Minnesota's Department of Surgery, associate director of translational research for the Masonic Cancer Center, and principal investigator on this grant. "Our effort should provide insight to overcoming barriers and a history of mistrust in clinical research and clinical trial recruitment."
One element of the EMPaCT research is to establish a patient navigation model. These patient navigators would work with minority groups, providing assistance to patients considering a clinical trial and offering ongoing support and outreach to patients enrolled in a trial. A similar model was successfully implemented at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), increasing African American participation in clinical trials.
"We must find ways to increase minority participation in clinical trials," said Mona Fouad, M.D., M.P.H., professor and director of the Division of Preventive Medicine, director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center, and co-principal investigator on this grant. "Failure to do so misses the opportunity to provide effective, detailed and often improved care for all persons via clinical trials. Focusing on recruiting minorities into clinical trials also provides a novel mechanism to engage the part of our nation at the greatest medical risk, those on the fringe of the health-care safety net and for whom data is persistently limited and/or missing in the areas of chronic diseases and cancer."
Both Vickers and Fouad bring a wealth of experience and have a strong record of health disparities research, collaborating on projects for more than 15 years. Vickers served on the advisory board of the NIH and the Office of Minority Health and Research. He also was the former associate director of the UAB Minority Health and Research Center (MHRC) and principal investigator of their NCMHD-funded center of excellence. Fouad is well-known for her work on health disparities and recognized as a leader on minority recruitment and retention programs. She is the current principal investigator of the UAB's NCMHD-funded center of excellence and director of the MHRC.
About National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD)
The NCMHD is a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NCMHD promotes minority health and leads, coordinates, supports and assesses the NIH effort to eliminate health disparities. The NCMHD programs focus on expanding the nation's ability to conduct research and to build a diverse culturally-competent research workforce to eliminate health disparities.
The National Institutes of Health − The Nation's Medical Research Agency − includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about the NIH and its programs, visit http://www.
About the University of Minnesota Medical School
Dedicated to excellence, diversity and service, the University of Minnesota Medical School educates the next generation of physicians, advances patient care, and discovers breakthroughs in biomedical research that enhance health in Minnesota and beyond. Its commitment to transform medical education, Rural Physician Associate Program, and success in training Native American physicians are well-known. More than 1,500 Medical School physicians and scientists provide world-class care and carry out nearly $200 million in research, which informs the treatments and care that patients receive. For more information, go to www.med.umn.edu.
About University of Alabama at Birmingham
UAB is the state of Alabama's largest employer and an internationally renowned research university and academic health center whose professional schools and specialty patient care programs are consistently ranked as among the nation's top 50. The UAB Health System includes all of the University of Alabama at Birmingham's patient care activities, including UAB Hospital, the Callahan Eye Foundation Hospital and The Kirklin Clinic. Find more information at www.uab.edu and www.uabmedicine.org.
About UC Davis Cancer Center
Designated by the National Cancer Institute, UC Davis Cancer Center cares for 9,000 adults and children each year from throughout the Central Valley and inland Northern California. The center is dedicated to reducing cancer health disparities, enriching the lives of patients and their families, and supporting community members interested in learning more about cancer risks, prevention, early detection and research. For more information, visit www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/cancer.
About the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston ranks as one of the world's most respected centers focused on cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. M. D. Anderson is one of only 40 comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute. For six of the past eight years, including 2009, M. D. Anderson has ranked No. 1 in cancer care in "America's Best Hospitals," a survey published annually in U.S. News & World Report.
About Johns Hopkins
Since its inception in 1973, the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins has been dedicated to better understanding human cancers and finding more effective treatments. One of only 40 cancer centers in the country designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as a Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center has active programs in clinical research, laboratory research, education, community outreach, and prevention and control. The Kimmel Cancer Center is the only Comprehensive Cancer Center in the state of Maryland.
The Center encompasses a wide spectrum of specialty programs for both adults and children coping with cancer, including bone marrow transplantation and new drug development. Additionally, those at high risk for breast, ovarian, colon and other cancers may seek information about early detection, prevention, and genetic counseling through a comprehensive genetics service.
The Baltimore-based Kimmel Cancer Center also offers complete family and patient services that include a Cancer Counseling Center, survivors and palliative care programs, and the 39 suite, Hackerman-Patz Patient and Family Pavilionfor patients and their families traveling from out-of-town.