UMass Boston Joins Top Tier of University-based Cancer Research Thanks to $13.7M NIH Award

Jim Mortenson | December 02, 2010

For achieving the highest score of all proposals submitted from across the country, UMass Boston has been awarded a prestigious $13.7 million U54 grant by the National Institutes of Health, providing the UMass Boston-Dana Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC) Partnership with additional funds to further contribute to developing and strengthening the country’s national cancer research program.

UMass Boston’s Dr. Adán Colón-Carmona and the DF/HCC’s Dr. Karen Emmons are co-directors of the partnership’s leadership team. And thanks to their outstanding efforts UMass Boston joins the ranks of Boston University, Harvard University, and Tufts University as a member of those elite institutions waging war on cancer for the benefit of all people.

The partnership’s overall goal is to address health disparities in minority populations, and to improve research, training, and outreach opportunities for minority students, nurses, and scientists. Featuring two pilot studies and five full projects, the U54 research priorities are in the areas of cancer cell biology (projects in cell cycle control, drug design, and cell signaling), cancer disparities during end of life care specifically among Latinos, and cancer interventions and prevention utilizing faith-based organizations also with a Latino community focus.

Colón-Carmona is a scientist with expertise in cell and molecular biology, along with a strong record of educating and training UMass Boston students from under-represented backgrounds. Emmons is a population scientist with expertise in cancer prevention and community-based research, along with a strong record of mentoring faculty.

In August 2002, UMass Boston and the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC) initiated their ground-breaking public-private partnership to fight cancer. Over the next three years, through diligent planning and strong institutional commitments, the partnership successfully competed for a $4.3 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) Minority Institution/Cancer Center Partnership grant, or U56 grant, in 2005.

Those funds launched a strong collaborative program in cancer research, training, and outreach. To date, the partnership has been directly responsible for or directly leveraged $26 million in research funds, and over $13.6 million in training grants. Due to the success of this exciting and dynamic partnership, it was one of a handful of partnerships the NIH invited to submit proposals to the U54 Limited Grant Competition. Through the U56 program (funded 2005-2010), the partnership developed the Accelerated Nursing Doctoral Program in Cancer Disparities; the next essential step of the U54 program will be the establishment of a Nursing Post-doctoral Program in Cancer and Health Disparities. For complete details, visit the UMB-DF/HCC Comprehensive Cancer Partnership Program website.

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