National Latino cancer research network gets $5.6M federal grant

Posted: Thursday, September 16, 2010
Redes En Acción, a 10-year-old research network based at The UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, will continue to reduce Latino cancer through 2015

SAN ANTONIO (Sept. 16, 2010) — After a decade of success reducing Latino cancer through research, training and education, locally based Redes En Acción: The National Hispanic/Latino Cancer Research Network has received a new $5.6 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to bolster and expand its cancer-fighting efforts.
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Redes En Acción, launched in 2000, is led by the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Redes has regional sites in Miami, New York, San Diego and San Francisco along with its online network of more than 1,800 researchers and advocates from across the U.S. who are united in fighting Latino cancer.

In 10 years, Redes has successfully tested novel interventions to improve access to cancer care and screening, trained the next generation of Latino cancer researchers and raised public and scientist awareness of Latino cancer challenges and solutions.

The new grant will bolster Redes’ efforts through 2015 and pave the way for two new studies: a large-scale study to test novel strategies to improve Latino cancer survivors’ quality of life and a pilot study of an Internet-based tobacco cessation service.

“We’re extremely excited that the NCI continues to support Redes and acknowledges the tremendous strides we’ve made and are making to reduce the Latino cancer burden,” said Amelie G. Ramirez, DrPH, Redes principal investigator and director of the IHPR at the UT Health Science Center. “We believe our efforts will continue to help Latinos, who suffer higher incidence of some cancers and lower survival rates for most cancers, which reflects less access to timely, quality health care.”

The focal point of Redes’ new grant is the study on Latino cancer survivorship.

Given limited knowledge of how the cancer experience impacts Latino survivors, Redes researchers will test the effectiveness of using patient navigators in Texas’ Lower Rio Grande Valley and South Florida to identify survivors and link them to the Lance Armstrong Foundation’s LIVESTRONG SurvivorCare program, which offers free, bilingual support for any person affected by cancer to help with coping, finances, support and more.

The study hypothesizes that participants randomized to this patient navigation intervention, versus usual care, will show significantly greater quality of life and greater compliance in treatment follow-up from pre- to post-intervention.

“We expect to vastly improve the availability of needed resources and thus the quality of life among breast, colorectal and prostate Latino cancer survivors,” Dr. Ramirez said.

Redes also will use its new grant to bolster its cancer-reduction efforts in these areas:

Redes research focuses on policy and organizational change and innovative interventions to reduce disparities. Redes investigators do groundbreaking Latino cancer research in: genetics; network analysis; obesity; tobacco; cancer screening; cancer clinical trials; cancer survivorship; and patient navigation. In all, Redes researchers have more than $200 million in peer-reviewed Latino cancer and chronic disease grants.

Redes training activities have instructed or mentored more than 225 emerging cancer researchers from undergrads to doctoral students to junior faculty, building a national pipeline of Latino researchers and physicians. Redes also launched the careers of 18 NCI pilot investigators who leveraged $900,000 in NCI cancer research funding into $100 million in cancer and chronic disease research.

Redes education seeks to improve access to cancer screening, treatment and beneficial cancer interventions. Redes has reached communities and researchers nationally through: more than 2,000 cancer education events; bilingual education materials, such as Buena Vida cancer health magazines and the Nuestras Historias book for Latina cancer survivors; a network website; monthly E-alert; quarterly E-newsletter; a Latino Cancer Expert’s Directory; and award-winning bilingual PSAs promoting cancer screening and clinical trial participation among Latinos.

Redes recently celebrated its achievements and marked its 10th anniversary during a national meeting March 3-5, 2010, in San Antonio.

Dr. Ramirez believes Redes will continue making a difference in the next five years.

“We believe our ongoing research, training and education activities have helped decrease Latino cancer over the years, and our new grant gives us additional opportunities to raise the level of Latino health even more,” said Dr. Ramirez, who also is associate director of health disparities at the Cancer Therapy and Research Center, the NCI-designated Cancer Center at the UT Health Science Center. “We’re excited about continuing to find nuevas fronteras in Latino health.”

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The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 2 percent of all U.S. institutions receiving federal funding. Research and other sponsored program activity totaled a record $259 million in fiscal year 2009. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced 27,000 graduates. The $753 million operating budget supports six campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit www.uthscsa.edu.

The Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) investigates the causes and solutions to the unequal impact of cancer and chronic disease among Latinos in San Antonio, South Texas and the nation. The IHPR, founded in 2006, is based at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio with a satellite office in Harlingen, Texas. The IHPR uses evidence-guided research, training and community outreach to improve the health of those at a disadvantage due to race/ethnicity or social determinants. Visit the IHPR online at http://ihpr.uthscsa.edu or read our blog.



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