Message from the Director of the Office of Cancer Disparities Research: Monica Webb Hooper, PhD
On March 17, 2017, over 130 people gathered in the Wolstein Research Building on the CWRU campus to discuss cancer disparities at the inaugural "Cancer Disparities Symposium: Building Bridges to Address Cancer Disparities." I was pleased at the overwhelmingly positive response to this event, and excited to interact with such an engaged audience that represented a variety of sectors within our community. Scientists, clinicians, health professionals, patient advocates, community organizations, and government representatives from across northeast Ohio joined to discuss current research, share ideas and form new collaborations, and lay the foundation for future efforts to reduce and eliminate disparities in cancer.
Our program for the day was organized around three themes (Access to Care and Cancer-Related Disparities; Racial Disparities in Cancer Biology; Addressing Disparities through Community-Based Research) that were well-complimented by keynote presentations by Lena Grafton from NEOMED-CSU Partnership for Urban Health and Dr. Kola Okuyemi from the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. Each presenter offered a unique perspective on contributors to cancer disparities, the panel discussions gave rise to important questions from the audience, and the all-attendee discussion allowed the group to consider next steps and to identify opportunities for collaboration across organizations.
There were important take-home messages that emerged throughout the day. Among them were:
- The need for improved patient navigation from the emergency department or primary care to cancer diagnostic testing and affordable follow-up options
- The need to understand the contributions of biology to cancer outcomes among racial minorities in relation to social-environmental factors
- The need to build community trust through engagement and inclusion
- The importance of nurturing ongoing community-academic relationships
- And, the need to reduce the time from discovery to community benefit.
In the coming months, we will establish working groups to begin the process of addressing these key areas, among others. We welcome your participation.
This symposium is the first of many cancer disparities-focused activities being organized by the Case CCC Office of Cancer Disparities Research (OCDR). Thank you to all who attended and participated in the conversations - your thoughts and comments are well appreciated and noted. They will help to shape the activities of the OCDR in the coming year, as we work to increase our engagement with the community and move the needle in cancer disparities research.
I would like to thank the symposium planning committee for their hard work: Jame Abraham, MD; Kris Austin, LSW, MSED; Natalie Joseph, MD; Siran Koroukian, PhD; Smitha Krishnamurthi, MD; Cynthia Owusu, MD, MSc; and Paola Raska, PhD. My sincerest thanks to the Cancer Center Administration for their countless hours of work in making this event a success, and to the Case CCC Community Advisory Board for helping to shape the agenda and taking an active role in the symposium planning.
Finally, the symposium was recorded. Click here to view video segments.
Monica Webb Hooper, PhD
Director, Office of Cancer Disparities Research
Case Comprehensive Cancer Center