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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 overarching goals of this partnership are to advance knowledge regarding cancer health disparities and to increase the number of investigators conducting research in cancer health disparities, which, in the long term, will together contribute to reducing and eventually eliminating those disparities. 

In service of these goals, the partnership has two objectives: (1) To conduct pilot research projects in cancer health disparities co-led by investigators at each institution that will lead to submission of research proposals to NCI and other funding agencies; and (2) to provide mentorship and training in cancer health disparities research to early stage investigators and students who are involved in the pilot research projects.

Projects underway include:

  1. Disparities in Social Support, Isolation and Coping in Cervical Cancer Survivors
  2. Equipping Medical Professionals to Reduce Treatment Related Anxiety and Increase Treatment Procedural Understanding for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Receiving Cancer Treatment
  3. Molecular and Epigenetic Mechanisms of Gender Disparities in Early Onset Melanoma
  4. Mi Salud, Mi Vida: A Self-Discovery Tool for Latina Breast Cancer Survivors
  5. National and Local Retail Advertising of E-Cigarettes Aimed at Ethnic Minorities

 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.