About CDU

November 2014

Happy Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday is Dec. 2 and Much More! --Newsletter


COM Student Elberth Pineda Awarded a National Hispanic Health Foundation Scholarship

CDU COM Student Elberth Pineda, Awarded a National Hispanic Health Foundation Scholarship designed to honor Students from Health Professional Schools and Outstanding Health Leaders. The National Hispanic Health Foundation (NHHF) hosted its fourth annual Los Angeles Awards Gala where 10 students enrolled in health professional schools were given scholarships to help finish school and work in California and Western U.S.

The event was held November 20 at JW Marriott Hotel LA LIVE, in Los Angeles.

"The NHHF Scholarship Gala also honors leaders to inspire the student scholars to deliver quality healthcare, given the new 10 million insured Latinos we have with the Affordable Care Act this year," said Dr. Elena Rios, President and CEO of NHHF and NHMA. "And by partnering with visionary sponsors, we are able to increase the number of trusted healthcare providers for Latino families."

The United Health Foundation is the Presenting Sponsor and dedicated $160,000 to NHHF's Health Professional Student Scholarship Program, along with support from AstraZeneca, Novo Nordisk, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, New York Life Insurance, and American Beverage Association, nationally. David Geffen at UCLA School of Medicine, Keck School of Medicine at USC, UC Irvine School of Medicine, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, California HealthCare Foundation, California Wellness Foundation, Alta Med Health Services, Rojas and Associates, CPAs, Wells Fargo Bank, Amgen, LA Children's Hospital, PAN#1 Family Partnership are the key sponsors of the Los Angeles Scholarship Program.

This year's NHHF Health Professional Student Scholarships are awarded to outstanding students academically, who have demonstrated leadership and a commitment to working in the Hispanic community and selected by the Latino Caucus of the American Public Health Association, Hispanic Dental Association, Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York University, American Podiatry Association, Physician Assistants for Latino Health, American Association of Pharmacy Schools and the National Hispanic Medical Association. Since 2005, NHHF has awarded $511,000 to 174 students across the nation.

The 2014 scholarship award winners are:

Elberth Pineda, Charles R. Drew University/David Geffen Medical School at UCLA PRIME. Also:

Paul Gonzalez, UT Southwestern Physician Assistant Program
Mariana Sáenz, UC Berkeley Policy School
Eduardo Hernandez, Western University of Health Sciences Podiatry School
Raquel Rodriguez, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA/UCLA Policy School
Jennifer Castellanos, Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC
Maritza Herrera, San Diego State University Public Health School
Angel Moran, UC Davis School of Medicine
Evelyn Escobedo Pol, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Maria de Fatima Reyes, Keck School of Medicine of USC

NHHF is the 501(c)(3) organization started by the National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA) that represents 50,000 Hispanic physicians across the U.S. The mission of NHHF is to improve the health of Hispanics through research and educational activities.

SOURCE National Hispanic Health Foundation



What CDU Researchers are Discovering about Triple Negative Breast Cancer

It’s October—Breast Cancer Awareness Month:  learn something new:

What CDU Researchers are Discovering about Triple Negative Breast Cancer


When you see football players running touchdowns in pink cleats, you know without anyone saying a word that it is October - National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  As women become more aware of the need for regular breast exams and looking out for signs and symptoms of breast cancer, there is something else to be aware of. It’s called Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) and it is affecting younger Black women.  But, what is it?

Says the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation’s website:


“It is now commonly understood that breast cancer is not one form of cancer, but many different "subtypes" of cancer.  These subtypes of breast cancer are generally diagnosed based upon the presence, or lack of, three "receptors" known to fuel most breast cancers: estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). The most successful treatments for breast cancer target these receptors.


Unfortunately, none of these receptors are found in women with triple negative breast cancer. In other words, a triple negative breast cancer diagnosis means that the offending tumor is estrogen receptor-negative, progesterone receptor-negative and HER2-negative, thus giving rise to the name "triple negative breast cancer." On a positive note, this type of breast cancer is typically responsive to chemotherapy because of its triple negative status, however, triple negative tumors generally do not respond to receptor-targeted treatments. Depending on the stage of its diagnosis, triple negative breast cancer can be particularly aggressive, and more likely to recur than other subtypes of breast cancer.”


There is no proven cure.  But researchers are working on it.


The research team in the Division of Cancer Research and Training and the Center to Eliminate Cancer Health Disparities, led by Dr. Jay Vadgama at CDU has been investigating breast cancer incidence and mortality in African American and Hispanic women since the 1990s. They have examined how different types of breast cancer tissues and cells respond to treatment, what are the mechanisms of action, and what happens when the tumors do not respond to treatment. Recently, the team published an important study on triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) in African-American and Hispanic/Latina women from Service Planning Area (SPA) 6 region in South Los Angeles (PLoS One. 2013). In this study they examined the frequency, characteristics and disease outcome of different types of breast cancers in 318 African American and Hispanic/Latina women who had similar socio-economic-status. Their data showed that both African American and Hispanic/Latina women with TNBC have poor disease outcomes.


Dr. Yanyuan Wu who works daily in the Watts Willowbrook area as an associate professor in the Division of Cancer Research and Training Department of Medicine at Charles R Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU) will talk more about the TNBC and their work on October 24, 2014 for the "Pink Bag" Breast Cancer Awareness Symposium. Thus far it is unclear why African Americans and young women appear to be at higher risk to have TNBC. Significant effort by Dr. Vadgama’s team and others has been made and will continue to understand not only the biology of TNBC, but how to provide better care and follow up support to these patients. It is very important that cancer patients continue to follow up their treatment and care after the initial diagnosis. We have observed that African American and Latina women are frequently lost to follow up. This one factor continues to play a significant impact on cancer health disparities. We advocate that patients and health care providers continue to work closely to ensure that the best treatment and care is offered on a timely basis through education and awareness in our communities.   


What can African American and Latina women do to be proactive about breast health? Dr. Wu suggests:


  • Early detection is critically important, especially for women at higher risk.
  • Talk to their health care provider about their risk for cancer.
  • Be more active in participating in healthy diet and exercise that reduce the risk for cancer.
  • It is critical that minority and underserved populations, in particular African American and Latina groups participate in cancer research and clinical trials. These trials often provide access to novel and promising treatment options that could prolong life and perhaps save lives.
  • If you have been diagnosed with cancer, it is important to understand what type of cancer you have, and what the best options for treatment and care are.
  • Join support groups, spiritual or faith based organizations, community centers that can provide support and care. It is important not to be frightened, stressed, or “give up”.


For a great Breast Cancer Awareness resource video please visit www.bcacampaign.org

It features Robin Roberts of ABC’s Good Morning America who said she was told “As a Black woman you are less likely to get cancer but you are more likely to die from it.”


She said being athletic and eating well didn’t prevent her breast cancer, but it helped her fight it.  She said her doctor told her is she kept her body fat down it’s less likely to return.


Please join Dr. Wu and her CDU colleagues on October 24, 2014 for the "Pink Bag" Breast Cancer Awareness Symposium at Avalon Carver Community Center from 11:00am – 2:00pm.  For details please send an email to Prof. Aziza Wright, at wrightaziza@aol.com . For more information about Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science visit www.cdrewu.edu.





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