UCI and CSU Fullerton partner to advance cancer health disparities research with a focus on diversity and inclusion

With a grant of more than $1.1 million from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the UCI Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center (CFCCC) and California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) have established a collaborative partnership focused on addressing cancer disparities of the highest need in Orange County.

Trends in cancer disparities in Orange County illustrate the growing need for innovative, collaborative solutions to this pressing public health issue. Research shows that Orange County’s Asian/Pacific Islander communities are disproportionately burdened by liver and lung cancer, Hispanic/Latino communities by stomach and cervical cancer and non-Hispanic whites by breast and ovarian cancer. Through an NCI P20 grant, UCI and CSUF are teaming up to respond to these inequities with a goal to transform the future of cancer care.

The CSUF/UCI-CFCCC Cancer Health Equity Research Partnership is a four-year research and training program that has a multi-pronged mission: to fund pilot research projects involving investigators from each institution while training under-represented minority undergraduates and graduate students on cancer disparities research. As a long-term goal, the partnership aims to enhance the pipeline of under-represented minority students trained in disparities research into the cancer workforce.

An expert in community-based cancer disparities research, Sora Park Tanjasiri, DrPH, will represent UCI as a project lead. Tanjasiri serves as equity advisor and professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the UCI Program in Public Health, as well as associate director of cancer health disparities and community engagement at the UCI CFCCC.

Leading the CSUF’s efforts for the project is Marcelo Tolmasky, PhD, professor and director of the CSUF Center for Applied Biotechnology, who bring years of expertise in molecular genetics and pathology to the project.

“This highly integrated and interactive partnership will play a critical role in promoting health equity in and around Orange County. UCI looks forward to building upon its past successes in community-based research through this important initiative,” Tanjasiri said.

“As the only NCI-designated cancer center based in Orange County, the UCI Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center is committed to developing the next generation of cancer researchers and clinicians,” said Richard Van Etten, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and director of the UCI Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. “This new NIH-funded partnership between UCI and CSUF will play a crucial role in increasing the cohort of trained professionals working on cancer research and training, thus putting us closer to providing innovative treatment for our patients.”


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