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Baylor Gets $6.3M NCI Grant for Racial, Ethnic Cancer Disparities Work

Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine will explore how ethnic and racial differences affect disparities in cancer rates.

Baylor has received a $3.6 million grant for racial and ethnic cancer disparities research

Source: Thinkstock

By Jessica Kent

- The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded $6.3 million to support researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in understanding the biological causes of racial and ethnic disparities in prostate and breast cancers.

NCI states that prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in American men. However, mortality from prostate cancer is an estimated 2.5 times higher in African-American men than in Caucasian men, making it the largest cancer disparity in the US.  

The NCI grant, part of the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot Initiative, will allow researchers to learn more about the underlying molecular basis for the aggressive behavior of prostate cancer in African-American men, and uncover the causes for prostate cancer disparities.

Baylor will use the grant to establish the Minority Patient-derived xenograft Development and Trial Center (M-PDTC), which will gather experts in molecular biology, animal drug treatment studies, and the pathology and clinical management of prostate and breast cancer.

“While socioeconomic and environmental factors definitely contribute to racial and ethnic cancer health disparities, there is also evidence for biological differences, and Baylor is a leader in their study,” explains Nicholas Mitsiades, MD, Associate Director of the Center for the Biology of Health Disparities and Director of the new M-PDTC.  

The Center will build on Baylor’s past efforts to study health disparities in prostate cancer. A Baylor team recently received a Challenge Grant from the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) to understand the biology of prostate cancer in African-American veterans. The group also sought to discover the effects of exposure to battlefield chemicals on the progression of prostate cancer.

Baylor is a major participant in the Research on Prostate Cancer in Men of African Ancestry: Defining the Roles of Genetics, Tumor Markers, and Social Stress, a $26.5 million study funded by NCI, PCF, and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

With this grant, Baylor expects to advance its research in prostate cancer disparities, as well as develop improved methods of prostate cancer treatment for minority and underserved patients.

“Baylor faculty serves a large minority patient population in the Houston area. Together, we will establish and fully characterize ethnically diverse cancer models that will allow us to extend our precision oncology initiatives to underserved minorities in the US and address these health disparities,” said Mitsiades.

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