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Grant Establishes Center to Eliminate Health Disparities

The University of Illinois at Chicago has been awarded a $7.2 million
federal grant to establish the UIC Center of Excellence in Eliminating
Health Disparities.

The new center, funded by a five-year grant from the National Center on
Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of
Health, will focus on health disparities in prostate and colorectal
cancer, community-based breast cancer initiatives, and training and
educating the next generation of health disparities researchers.

"The new center will be a multi-faceted, university-wide resource to
integrate health disparities research and activities," said Elizabeth
Calhoun, associate professor of health policy and administration at the
UIC School of Public Health, and director and principal investigator of
the new center. "We plan to engage new investigators in health
disparities, reaching not only into our undergrad and graduate
populations, but even into high school, to build a pipeline of
researchers interested in health disparities."

Carol Ferrans, professor and associate dean for research at the UIC
College of Nursing, is co-director of the center.

Researchers at the center will build upon prior UIC research to
implement a community project to eliminate breast cancer disparities in
South Side Chicago communities disproportionately affected by high
rates of breast cancer deaths. The project will use culturally
sensitive messages to promote mammography screening, address beliefs
that contribute to screening reluctance, and address personal and
health system barriers to screening.

The center's primary research projects will specifically look at
disparities in prostate and colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer among
African-American women and the third most common for African-American
men. Late stage diagnosis, method of detection, delays from detection
to surgical intervention, and disparities in treatment may all
contribute to African Americans having the highest mortality from this
disease of any racial or ethnic group, according to researchers.

In one study, led by Garth Rauscher, UIC assistant professor of
epidemiology, researchers will enroll 500 African-American patients
newly diagnosed with colorectal cancer to obtain information about
screening, stage at diagnosis and treatment. The researchers will look
at personal barriers such as cultural beliefs about cancer, social
support, transportation, housing, literacy, perceived stress, fear,
medical trust, as well as access barriers such as insurance status.

A second study, led by Vince Freeman, UIC assistant professor of
epidemiology, will compile data on prostate and colorectal cancer cases
diagnosed between 1995 and 2008 in Chicago to conduct a
population-based analysis of clinical, socioeconomic and health care
factors that account for mortality differences between African
Americans and Caucasians.

Ultimately, these statistical models will allow researchers to predict
hot-spot areas heavily burdened with disease, said Calhoun, and provide
effective measures for deploying resources such as targeted cancer

The center has a research core, a training and education core, and a
community engagement core, led by Richard Warnecke, Faye Davis, and
Carol Ferrans, respectively, who are researchers at the UIC Institute
for Health Research and Policy.

Rauscher and Freeman are researchers at the UIC Institute for Health
Research and Policy and the UIC Cancer Center.

The new UIC Center of Excellence in Eliminating Health Disparities will
involve faculty from all six of UIC's health sciences colleges, the UIC
Institute for Health Research and Policy, the UIC Center for Clinical
Translational Science, and the UIC Cancer Center to develop a
comprehensive strategy to incorporate research, education, policy
changes and community partnerships to reduce health disparities in
Chicago and beyond.

An extended interview as MP3 audio file is available at

Photographs of Elizabeth Calhoun are available

UIC ranks among the nation's top 50 universities in federal research
funding and is Chicago's largest university with 25,000 students,
12,000 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state's major public
medical center. A hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities
Commitment, through which UIC faculty, students and staff engage with
community, corporate, foundation and government partners in hundreds of
programs to improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas around
the world.

For more information about UIC, visit

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