HCC Researcher Lands $8M Grant to Improve Cancer Outcomes for Minority Men

Chanita Hughes-Halbert

Charleston, S.C. (Aug. 9, 2016) - The Medical University of South Carolina’s (MUSC) Hollings Cancer Center and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences were awarded an $8 million grant from the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities and the National Cancer Institute to establish the Transdisciplinary Collaborative Center in Precision Medicine and Minority Men’s Health at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC TCC).

In addition to MUSC, the center’s collaborating academic and community partners include the University of Pennsylvania, Hampton University, and the University of Texas Health Sciences Center, San Antonio and the Low Country Area Health Education Center, the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Black Leadership Initiative on Cancer, and the Hope Institute in Baltimore. Together with MUSC, these academic and community partners will conduct research that addresses the needs and priorities of minority men who live in diverse regions throughout the U.S.

SmartState Center of Economic Excellence AT&T Distinguished Endowed Chair in Cancer Equity and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences professor, Chanita Hughes-Halbert, Ph.D., serves as the contact principal investigator for MUSC TCC. Hughes-Halbert is also program leader for the Cancer Control Research Program at the Hollings Cancer Center, and is an expert in cancer prevention and control, minority health, and developing and implementing health interventions into clinical and community settings.

“The MUSC TCC is an important and innovative approach for improving health outcomes among minority men”, Hughes-Halbert said. “Limited efforts have been made to improve outcomes among men from racial and ethnic minority groups and the MUSC TCC in precision medicine will address this gap by using transdisciplinary strategies to integrate genomic, social, and psychological data to enhance equity in health and health outcomes among minority men.”

MUSC TCC aims to integrate existing strategies and determine new approaches for improving health outcomes among minority men through precision medicine. Genomic, social, clinical, and psychological data will be integrated using medical informatics to learn how these factors can be adapted into more precise medical strategies to prevent, diagnose, and treat chronic health conditions and diseases that disproportionately affect minority men in terms of morbidity and mortality.

MUSC TCC consists of three projects led by MUSC faculty members Michael Lilly, M.D.; Richard Drake, Ph.D.; Jennifer Wu, Ph.D., Sebastiano Gattoni Celli, M.D.; Steven Savage, M.D.; and Gary Hardiman, Ph.D. The project investigators bring a range of expertise including health disparities, precision medicine, and transdisciplinary approaches for prostate cancer research. Project 1 will study the effects of the PROSTVAC vaccine among men with at high risk for recurrence. Project 2 will identify new biomarkers for prostate cancer based on metabolites, glycans, and immune modulators and will characterize the distribution of these biomarkers based on racial background, social factors, and psychological characteristics. Project 3 will evaluate the benefits of Vitamin D3 supplementation in African American and white men diagnosed with prostate cancer.

All projects within MUSC TCC will integrate data on stress biomarkers to understand the molecular, social, and psychological mechanisms through which these biomarkers affect disease processes and outcomes. In future projects, MUSC TCC “will continue to address other chronic diseases that are common among minority men, and develop best practices for implementing precision medicine into medical care, through continued partnerships with academic medical institutions, community-based health centers, and public health agencies that make up the TCC’s multi-regional consortium network” Hughes-Halbert said.


Grace Hummel

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