Meharry Medical College Awarded $1.3 million for Cancer Research

The National Cancer Institute has given Meharry Medical Collegea $1.3 million grant to develop a community clinical oncologyprogram that will serve the minority community in Nashville,Tennessee.

The National Cancer Institute coordinates theNational Cancer Program, which conducts and supports research,training, health information dissemination, and other programs forthe prevention of cancer, treatment of cancer, rehabilitation fromcancer, and the continuing care of cancer patients and the familiesof cancer patients.

The grant will create the MeharryMinority-Based Community Clinical Oncology Program in hopes ofachieving an increase in the numbers of minority patients withaccess to state of the art cancer therapy, cancer prevention, andcontrol clinical trials.

“The Minority-Based Community ClinicalOncology Program will enable us to accrue greater numbers ofminority patients into cancer clinical trials by involving otheroncologists in Nashville and Davidson County,” said Steven N.Wolf, principle investigator and Meharry professor of medicine.

One of the program’s major focuses is toencompass Meharry’s own active cancer treatment trail programwith Tennessee Oncology, one of the area’s largestmulti-physician oncology practices, and Drs. Karl M. Rodgers andCarl R. Willis of Nashville Oncology Associates.

“These combined groups of physiciansmake up 56 percent of all medical oncologists in MetropolitanNashville/Davidson County,” announced Wolf. “Thesegroups care for large numbers of minority patients in the area andhave proven track records for placing patients on NCI-approvedclinical trials.” He continued, “By partnering togetherwe will be able to pull our expertise to broaden access to cancertreatment studies and extend cancer prevention and control tominority and medically undeserved populations.”

Meharry Medical College’s mission is toconduct thematic research that studies diseases affectingminorities disproportionately, by putting the spotlight ondisparities. By devoting resources and expertise to theinvestigation of problems contributing to health disparities inminority populations, they can translate their understanding intoclinical application and medical practice to serve and improve theminority community. In 2003 the college established The MeharryEXPORT Center for Health Disparities with a $4.3 million NIH grantto enhance research.

Meharry is the nation’s largest private,independent historically Black institution dedicated solely toeducating health professionals. Since 1876, Meharry has played amajor role in training minority health professionals and providinghealth care to underrepresented minorities in this country. After125 years, this direction is still a necessary and key element ofMeharry’s core mission. 

“I congratulate Meharry for theirleadership in working to eliminate the disparities of health caretoday,” said U.S. Rep Jim Cooper. “It is vital that allcitizens have access to the very best medical advice and treatmentoptions. This funding will help Meharry to expand their services inour community and, as a result, to improve the outlook for thoseconfronting the challenges of cancer.”

Cancer is a disease that is beginning toovercome the minority community, specifically the African Americancommunity as they are about 34 percent more likely to die of cancerthan whites and almost two times more likely to die from thedisease than Asian/Pacific Islanders, American Indians andHispanics. African American men have the highest death rates incolon and rectum, lung and prostate cancer while African Americanwomen have the highest death rates in colon and breast cancer.

“We know that the overall cancer ratefor African Americans is greater than for all other ethnicgroups,” said Wolf.