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Grantees Attend Cancer Control Academy

By Jemarion Jones

The National Cancer Institute's Office of Special Populations Research brought together new grantees of the Special Populations Networks for Cancer Awareness Research and Training (SPNs) for an inaugural session of the Cancer Control Academy recently.

SPNs began in April when 18 researchers from 17 institutions received grants totaling over $60 million to form the networks. NCI created them to address the unequal burden of cancer within specific populations. Many studies show that minorities and low-income populations suffer a disproportionate cancer burden. These studies suggest that minorities and the underserved, especially those with low incomes and less than a high school education, often lack access to, and information about, state-of-the-science cancer prevention, early detection and treatment. The special populations include African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and Pacific Islanders, Native Americans and medically underserved people in both rural and urban areas.

Dr. Otis Brawley, director of the Office of Special Populations Research, initiated the 3-day academy as a way to make the resources and structure of NCI more visible to grantees. The CCA represented a cross-NCI effort, with speakers representing most of the extramural divisions and offices.

NCI director Dr. Richard Klausner addresses the inaugural Cancer Control Academy.

The academy provided grantees a forum to begin the background work needed to build relationships between research institutions and community-based programs when they return to their areas. Over the next 5 years, grantees will use these cooperative relationships to foster cancer awareness activities, support minority enrollment in clinical trials, and encourage and promote the development of minority junior biomedical researchers.

"SPNs will help NCI to see that individuals of diverse populations are represented in all aspects of NCI's research enterprise: in populations studies, clinical trials, and in the oversight and conduct of research," said Dr. Richard Klausner, director of NCI. "SPNs will also help NCI to communicate the results of this research effectively to special populations."

"The purpose of the CCA is to unify our resources and maximize our efforts," said Frank Jackson, program director of SPNs and the academy's coordinator. "We want to ensure that the grantees' programs get off to a good start and ultimately are able to reduce the burden of cancer in communities throughout the United States."

Grantees heard panel discussions and interactive presentations about cancer communications research opportunities and model cancer communication programs. Other topics of discussion included NCI information resources such as the Cancer Information Service, Cancer Net (http://cancernet.nci.nih.gov), and CancerTrials (http://cancertrials.nci.nih.gov). Later, participants met in breakout sessions to discuss topics dealing with their particular populations.

A total of 220 people attended the academy. This included community group representatives, researchers, academics and some NCI staff. Several members of the NCI director's consumer liaison group (an all-consumer advisory body that advises the NCI director on a variety of research and program issues affecting the public and patients) and the special populations working group (an ethnically diverse group of cancer researchers and advocates that assists NCI with issues involving special populations) also attended.

For more academy information, contact Jackson at 496-8589. To learn more about the networks, visit http://rex.nci.nih.gov/massmedia/pressreleases/special_pop_eng.html.


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