A $7.2 million grant for a new research center will allow the University of Illinois-Chicago to identify areas of the city afflicted by disparities in the treatment of breast, prostate and colorectal cancer.
Researchers at the Center of Excellence in Eliminating Health Disparities will delve into cultural beliefs, various socio-economic issues and obstructions to medical access related to cancer.
UIC spokeswoman Jeanne Galatzer-Levy says construction of the center has yet to be planned.
“It's hard to say exactly when the center will be up and running,” she says.
Elizabeth Calhoun, associate professor of health policy and administration at the UIC School of Public Health, is the new center’s principal investigator.
When it opens, she says, "it will be a multi-faceted, university-wide resource to integrate health disparities research and activities.”
Building on previous UIC research, researchers will take part in community health outreach initiatives aimed at reducing breast cancer disparities in several communities on the city’s predominately black South Side. The Chicago Metropolitan Breast Cancer Task Force found that black women are 68 percent more likely than whites to die of breast cancer.
Outreach efforts will feature culturally tailored messages to advocate mammography screenings and address personal and societal obstacles to screenings.
The center also will examine disparities in colorectal and prostate cancer. Of all racial and ethnic groups, black people die in greater numbers from this disease, according to the researchers, and late detection and disparities in treatment are two of the causes.
Researchers hope to use data from studies conducted at the center to identify “hot-spot” areas of Chicago heavily afflicted by cancer and help them offer effective resources to reduce disparities.
A major goal of the center will be to increase interest in health disparity research among young people.
UIC spokeswoman Galatzer-Levy says researchers "plan to reach into the community to engage and encourage students to enter the field."
"We plan to engage new investigators in health disparities," Calhoun says. "Reaching not only into our undergrad and graduate populations, but even into high school, to build a pipeline of researchers interested in health disparities."
Grant money for UIC’s Center of Excellence in Eliminating Health Disparities will be spread over a five-year period and was provided by the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, a division of the National Institutes of Health.