The University of Massachusetts Boston and the Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC) have been granted nearly $17.8 million over five years from the National Institutes of Health to support their U54 Comprehensive Partnership for Cancer Disparities Research. UMass Boston and the DF/HCC have been in partnership for over thirteen years, working together to end cancer disparities and train the next generation of cancer researchers. $8.5 million will go toward UMass Boston, while nearly $9.3 million will go toward DF/HCC.
The U54 partnership takes a two-pronged approach to cancer research. In addition to funding traineeships at the undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate level for underrepresented minority students in the life sciences, the program funds research that seeks to address disparities in cancer care. Three research projects are already under way, and more will be added over the next five years.
“UMass Boston is now a hub for training diverse scientists,” said Adán Colón-Carmona, associate professor of biology at UMass Boston and principal investigator on the U54 partnership. “We’ve had significant impact locally and regionally in this realm.”
Colón-Carmona is joined this year by co-principal investigator Jill Macoska, director of the Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy (CPCT) at UMass Boston. Macoska brings new tools to facilitate cutting-edge cancer research on the campus. Researchers and trainees in the U54 program will make use of the Genomics Core, a laboratory that features the latest genetic sequencing technology. Macoska says that giving UMass Boston’s diverse students access to these tools is essential to developing Massachusetts’ workforce.
“Our students live here and stay here. They need the best training they can get,” said Macoska, “This is a big goal of the U54 training core and the CPCT.”
Partnering with the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center allows student trainees to learn from scientists in a world-renowned cancer research and treatment center.
“This renewal speaks to the important work we are doing in partnership with our colleagues from UMass Boston and addresses the urgent issue of cancer disparities and cancer control through research, training, and outreach,” said K. Viswanath, professor in the department of Population Sciences at the DF/HCC.