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Partnership for Cancer Health Disparities Research

The California State University Fullerton and the University of California Irvine Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center Partnership for Cancer Health Disparities Research was formed in 2012 to help reduce cancer health disparities in Orange County.

The collaboration, the first of its kind between the two institutions, is led by Allan Hubbell, MD, professor emeritus of medicine, public health and nursing science at UC Irvine, and Sora Park Tanjasiri, DrPH, professor of health science and director of the Health Promotion Research Institute at Cal State Fullerton. View our administrative team ›

The partnership is being funded by a four-year grant, totaling more than $1.3 million, from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH has defined healthcare disparities as the differences in the incidence, prevalence, mortality and burden of diseases and other adverse health conditions that exist among specific U.S. population groups.

Improving cancer health disparities

“The overall goal is to establish a collaborative partnership that will increase cancer health disparities research at both institutions,” Hubbell said. “By doing so, the partnership will contribute to reducing—and eventually eliminating—disparities in Orange County, leading to cancer health equity.”

Cancer is the second leading cause of death among all major ethnic groups, Tanjasiri said, “however, the risk of developing cancer varies considerably by ethnicity.”

Hispanics, for example, have higher rates of cervical cancer, stomach cancer and liver cancer than non-Hispanic whites. Non-Hispanic black males have the highest overall cancer incidence and mortality rate of any ethnic group.

Research and mentoring

The partnership has two objectives.

One is to conduct pilot cancer health disparities research projects involving at least one investigator at each institution that will lead to submission of research proposals to NCI and other funding agencies. These projects will advance knowledge regarding cancer health disparities and, long term, will contribute to reducing and eventually eliminating those disparities.  We invite interested participants to propose pilot projects that meet our partnership goals. View the current Request for Applications  Co-investigators will be asked to provide a brief overview of their proposed project at the partnership’s annual research collaboration forums:

1st Research Collaboration Forum
2nd Research Collaboration Forum

Projects underway include:

The second is to provide mentorship and training in cancer health disparities research to junior investigators who are involved in the pilot research projects.  By doing so, the project directors hope to increase the number of faculty members conducting research in cancer health disparities. As the partnership advances, education and outreach activities will be provided in the community.

Funding will support four pilot research projects. Each project may have a budget of up to $50,000 per year for up to two years ($400,000 combined total for all four projects; each institute will receive $200,000). View instructions for applying for pilot project funding.

The first pilot research project, which was submitted with the grant proposal, explores disparities in social support, isolation and coping among cervical cancer survivors. The study combines the complementary expertise of co-leaders, Dr. Mindy Mechanic (CSUF) in social support and coping, and Dr. Lari Wenzel (UCI-CFCCC) in cancer survivorship and quality of life, and in this collaborative study.  Three additional projects will be selected for funding through a competitive process during the course of the Partnership.

About the partners

The Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at UC Irvine Medical Center provides fully integrated research, prevention, diagnostics, treatment and rehabilitation programs for patients and families coping with cancer. The cancer center, ranked among the nation’s best hospitals for oncology treatment by U.S. News & World Report, is Orange County’s only comprehensive cancer center—the highest designation given by the National Cancer Institute.

Cal State Fullerton’s Health Promotion Research Institute (HPRI) serves as a catalyst and focal point for research, training, and community interchange to develop and disseminate evidence-based information and health promotion programs.  The institute has more than 50 faculty members from 18 departments. It consists of five affiliated centers, including the Center for Cancer Disparities Research that was established to address the increasing burden of cancer-related health disparities.


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