Addressing Rural Cancer Health Disparities: An SCC-SIUSM Partnership

Background: Cancer disparities in the United States exist among distinct community populations most notably categorized by geography, income level, and race/ethnicity, where higher cancer risk and worse outcomes persist. Although poverty is often associated with health disparities, impoverished rural communities are often overlooked and underrepresented in research studies, even in the most economically distressed areas in the nation. Rural counties frequently have worse cancer outcomes, and are Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs) and Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). Rural populations experience lower access to health care along the dimensions of affordability, proximity, and quality, compared with their urban counterparts. They often experience higher rates of cancer, poorer survival, and less utilization of preventive services. Recent data indicate that the health gap between rural and other residents is widening.

The P20 grant is a collaboration between SIUSM and Washington University Siteman Cancer Institute (WUSTL) where WUSTL acts as a mentor to SIUSM to help us develop a larger team of cancer health disparities researchers. In exchange, SIUSM gives WUSTL access to rural cancer patients that they may not have been able to reach otherwise. There are 3 components to the grant: admin, training and a pilot research project. There is a call for pilot proposals once a year to be funded through this program. There are also training opportunities available for faculty and other staff.

Project Lead: Laurent Brard, MD, PhD

OPSP Team Members: Wiley Jenkins, PhD; Amanda Fogleman, MEng

Collaborators: Washington University Siteman Cancer Center

Goals: The partnership goals are to: 1) build SIUSM cancer research capacity and support SIUSM faculty in transitioning to NIH-funded cancer disparities research, 2) provide opportunities for mid- and senior-level investigators to engage in cross- institutional cancer research and increase the rural cancer research scope and capacity at SCC, and 3) foster the development of postdoctoral scholars and junior faculty at both institutions to develop independent researchers in cancer disparities research.

Findings: None yet

Publications: None yet