CHARLES DREW UNIVERSITY AWARDED $9.8 MILLION
Charles Drew University has been awarded $9.8 million from three major national funders to support the university’s long-term, UCLA partnership aimed at reducing the risk of cancer among minorities in poor and disadvantaged communities.
The National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute and the Center for Cancer Health Disparities awarded the grant to the university’s Cancer Center Partnership. An additional $4.5 million was allocated to the university’s longtime partner, the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC) at the David Geffen UCLA School of Medicine.
The two grants—totally more than $14 million—will be spread out over five years.
“Our unique partnership will significantly enhance our capability to reduce and eliminate cancer health disparities in minority and underserved populations,” said Dr. Jay Vadgama, the partnership’s principal investigator and endowed professor and Chief of the CDU’s Division of Cancer Research and Training. “The success of this large partnership funding is a direct result of an amazing team comprising a large number of faculty, students, staff and senior leadership at both CDU and UCLA.”
Dr. Vadgama said the funding will enhance the university’s ability to conduct high quality cancer research by recruiting more investigators, strengthening outreach programs and providing clinical trials in underserved communities.
More specifically, the funds will also enable the university to add 10 undergraduate summer students, four medical students, six postgraduates and two clinical fellows to be trained as future cancer researchers.
“We need to strengthen our ability to nurture the next generation of scientific investigators trained to target health disparities in underserved and minority communities,” said Dr. Keith C. Norris, Charles Drew’s Interim President.
In addition to expanding the number of researchers, the grant will enable the university to improve tissue and data resource capabilities, transforming CDU’s current tissue resource operation into an Integrated Clinical, Tissue and Biomarker Database Program.
Combined with a newly developed partnership with the California Geographic Management of Cancer Health Disparities Program Initiative, and the California Cancer Biorepository and Biospecimen Management Program, CDU is poised to have a greater footprint nationally and internationally in the study of health disparities. Enhancing the university’s ability to store and analyze tissue resources will increases its ability to perform cancer-related clinical trials.
Charles Drew University is located in a heavily impoverished, minority community in South Los Angeles, where breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers are among the most commonly diagnosed forms of cancers with poor outcome.
Ultimately, Dr. Vadgama said, the goal is to bring cancer research to the community level, while, at the same time, increasing the community’s capacity to develop health prevention strategies through unique partnerships.