Scientists in Alabama State University’s College of Science, Mathematics and Technology have been awarded a major grant that will be used to combat health disparities among African-Americans battling cancer.
Alabama State University scientists have received a $578,224 grant from The National Institutes of Health to conduct groundbreaking research in the areas of prostate and colorectal cancer.
“This grant that will allow us to jump start our first cancer research and education program for our faculty and students here at ASU,” said Dr. Manoj Mishra, associate professor of biology and principal investigator.
The major goal of the four-year grant, Mishra said, is to find ways to eliminate health disparities of prostate and colorectal cancer in minorities, especially among African-Americans, who die from the disease at higher rates than other populations.
“Overcoming cancer health disparities is one of the best opportunities we have for lessening the burden of cancer,“ Mishra said.
In the Southeast, disparities can be attributed to multiple factors, including lifestyle, culture, environment, health care access, socioeconomics and population-specific genetic differences, Mishra said. He added that the grant will address these issues with a persistent, multi-faceted strategy by combining multidisciplinary cancer research projects to unravel the basis for cancer disparities.
The research grant also will allow ASU to start collaborative partnerships with other Alabama scientists.
“The partnership between ASU and the University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center (UAB CCC) presents a unique opportunity for training and educating the pipeline of future cancer research scientists, with emphasis on minority investigators and cancer health disparities research,” said Dr. Karyn Scissum Gunn, co-principal investigator and co-leader.
“The Cancer Education Program (CEP), an integral part of the Cancer Training and Education Program (CTEP), will introduce curricular reform at ASU to educate, engage and motivate underrepresented students in cancer research and education.”
Mishra agrees that ASU is now building the infrastructure and has the capacity to make significant contributions to the fight against cancer.
“This award is going to put ASU on the map of cancer research and is another step forward toward establishing a vibrant cancer research program at ASU that will attract students and faculty from around the world,” Mishra said. “This new initiative will also put ASU on the global map and recognize the potential of ASU faculty in eliminating health disparity in cancer.”
Members of the project team also include Dr. Shivani Soni, co-leader-research Project 1; Dr. Sabita Saldanha, senior personnel, training and education core; and Dr. Kenley Obas, Information Technology specialist.