The National Cancer Institute defines "cancer health disparities" as "differences in the incidence, prevalence, mortality, and burden of cancer and related adverse health conditions that exist among specific population groups in the United States. Complex interactions of biological, social, cultural, environmental, and behavioral factors affect disease incidence and mortality and contribute to cancer related health disparities. Eliminating these disparities requires a trained cadre of researchers, physicians, and public health professionals who are attuned to cultural and socio-economic issues that affect health care seeking and health care access, patient compliance, participation in clinical trials, and risk-reducing behaviors.
In response to this need, North Carolina Central University and UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center have formed the PARTNERS Research Education Program, funded by a U54 award from the National Cancer Institute.
The goals of the PARTNERS Program are:
(1) strengthen cancer research capacity at NCCU providing NCCU scientists mentorship and collaborative opportunities to compete for NCI grants;
(2) enrich the capacity of NCCU and LCCC to further explore mechanisms underlying the disproportionate incidence of cancer mortality and morbidity between African Americans and Caucasian Americans, using both molecular and population-based approaches;
(3) increase the number of NCCU scientists focused on cancer research as well as the education of minority undergraduate and graduate students in cancer research;
(4) increase the faculty at the UNC LCCC focused on minority disparities research;
(5) create long-term collaborations between basic, public health, and translational scientists from NCCU and UNC LCCC.