The University of Florida department of epidemiology at the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions and the College of Medicine has proposed a new project that will increase diversity of the participant pool for cancer research studies, help retain participants and track all activity to describe outcomes. The new project will be conducted through HealthStreet, which seeks to reduce health care disparities and improve access to research studies among people who are medically underserved by meeting residents out in the community and linking them to services and research opportunities.
The HealthStreet cohort has over 5,300 community members from Northeast Florida; each community member is assessed for health needs, concerns, and research perceptions. To date, HealthStreet Community Health Workers have not specifically targeted persons with cancer for recruitment. The new project aims to facilitate navigations and enrollments to UF Cancer Center studies, improve cancer research to make it more person-centered, increase diversity of research participants in cancer trials, and pilot test an intervention to assess its effect on enrollment and retention.
The HealthStreet intervention to increase diversity of participants in cancer research studies is led by Dr. Linda Cottler, chair of the department of epidemiology, founder and director of HealthStreet, and the PHHP associate dean for research and planning; and Dr. Catherine Striley, Health Street co-director and an assistant professor in the department.
Dr. Travis Gerke, an assistant professor in the department of epidemiology, has launched a new study in collaboration with Dr. Tamer Kahveci of the UF department of computer & information science & engineering that will use data from The Cancer Genome Atlas to help understand how DNA variation may impact gene expression levels in prostate tumor tissue. Information about how DNA and RNA work together in a molecular network can lead to substantial insight into cancer biology and, ultimately, new ideas for prevention and treatment. The project will be the most comprehensive prostate cancer study of its kind to date, and has high potential to impact current knowledge and guide future research.