A new $17.4 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) will help three Chicago universities work together with many of the city’s underserved communities to foster meaningful cancer research, education, training, and outreach.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Chicago communities that are low-income or predominantly African-American or Latino face cancer death rates up to double the national average.
The five-year grant will support the creation of the Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative (ChicagoCHEC), led by researchers from the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and Northeastern Illinois University.
The collaborative held a joint community kickoff event October 23 at the Arturo Velasquez Institute in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood to launch this initiative to help reduce the burden of cancer in low-income and racial and ethnic minority communities.
The effort is being led by community-oriented physician-scientists and researchers: Dr. Melissa Simon, the George H. Gardner Professorship in Clinical Gynecology department of obstetrics and gynecology, and faculty member at the Center for Community Health-Institute for Public Health and Medicine, Northwestern University; Dr. Robert Winn, associate vice president for community-based practice at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences Systems, professor of medicine at UIC College of Medicine and director of the University of Illinois Cancer Center; Dr. Christina Ciecierski, associate professor of economics at Northeastern Illinois University; and Dr. Moira Stuart, associate professor of health, physical education, recreation and athletics at Northeastern.
“Despite the existence of five academic medical centers and millions of dollars spent on cancer research and treatment of Chicago residents, we are still only in our infancy in responding to cancer health disparities,” Dr. Simon said. “We have been working on setting the groundwork and assembling this grant over the last five years as a way to move forward and foster the wonderful work of communities and organizations already working towards improving cancer equity.”