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ARRA Research & Training

AACR 100th Annual Meeting 2009 Recovery Act Funding at CRCHD

CRCHD received $20 million in Recovery Act funds that are being distributed over the next two years. These funds are being used to preserve and create jobs and promote scientific impact in short periods of time.

Disparities Research
Diversity Training

CRCHD’s focus is on supplementing existing grants within our flagship programs—the Community Networks Program (CNP), the Patient Navigation Research Program (PNRP), the Minority Institution/Cancer Center Partnership (MI/CCP), and the Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) — to assist those most impacted by the recession from our underserved communities.

Community Health Educators

Community health educators (CHEs) are individuals from the community who serve in a number of capacities performing outreach activities, assessing educational materials for cultural appropriateness and literacy, developing and implementing new educational materials, and evaluating educational materials.

Among our CNP and PNRP programs, Recovery Act funds are supporting community health educators in the following areas:

  • A community health educator at the South Carolina Cancer Disparities Community Network (SCCDCN) CNP is working to strengthen statewide cancer education awareness programs. This CHE is also developing a Breast and Cervical Cancer Tool Kit to help increase the number of black women receiving breast and cervical cancer screenings.
  • Our ‘Imi Hale Native American Hawaiian Cancer Network CNP is employing a community health educator to enhance delivery of culturally tailored cancer education materials within their Native Hawaiian communities. This individual is also providing specialized training to outreach staff on targeted distribution and applications of their educational materials.
  • In San Antonio’s PNRP project, a community health educator is taking the lead in creating a unique physical and virtual online community of patient resources, providing critical cancer information to their underserved Latino patients.
  • Our Boston PNRP site is utilizing a community health educator to develop culturally competent, tailored patient navigation training materials and Spanish-language resources for non-English-speaking patients.
  • A community health educator at the Denver PNRP project is reaching out to patients using motivational cancer resources to assist cancer patients in navigating the health care system and receiving quality cancer care in a timely way.

Patient Navigators

Patient navigators are employed across the cancer continuum from primary prevention and education, to screening/early detection, to resolving abnormal findings of screening tests, to diagnosis and treatment and/or through the survivorship period. Patient navigators guide patients through the medical care system, addressing patient barriers.

Read how some of our PNRP sites are using ARRA funds to support patient navigators to address culturally diverse health community needs:

  • The Tampa Bay Community Cancer Network (TBCCN) will support a patient navigator as part of a two-year pilot study. This pilot program will assess the community beliefs, perceptions, and current attitudes about biospecimen collection/biobanking and the importance of having minority involvement. The result will be the basis for creating priming tools (e.g., booklets, videos) for the community.
  • The Arkansas Cancer Community Network (ARCCN) is employing a patient navigator to promote breast and colorectal cancer screenings to residents in five rural Arkansas public health regions by providing planning activities, health fairs, training, and technical assistance, and linking organizations to each other.
  • The Asian Community Cancer Network (ACCN) will hire two part-time bilingual patient navigators (Vietnamese and Chinese) to help test a pilot hepatitis B patient navigation intervention program. This pilot will address barriers to care for patients with abnormal hepB test findings and coach the patients on coping strategies.

Translational Research
  • PI: John Carpten, Ph.D.
    Senior Investigator
    Translational Genomics Research Institute
    Phoenix, AZ

Dr. John Carpten, Senior Investigator at the Translational Genomics Research Institute is examining an interesting candidate gene that encodes the EphB2 tyrosine kinase gene. The PI and his colleagues were the first to report somatic mutations and loss of function of EphB2 in sporadic prostate cancer. Preliminary association data from Dr. Carpten’s lab suggest that there are, in fact, germ line variants in the EphB2 gene that confer a statistically significant association with prostate cancer risk in African-American men.

With ARRA support, Dr. Carpten and his group will be able to complete the analysis of the next generation of sequencing data of EphB2. Their plan is to identify all candidate novel variants within 5kb of all SNPs showing statistically significant association with prostate cancer from their data set, and genotype EphB2 variants in an independent cohort of prostate cancer cases and controls from a black population.

The study holds great promise to translate basic research into clinical application for prostate cancer prevention, diagnosis, and therapies that target African-American population carrying genetic variants in EpHB2. Equally important, this ARRA supplement will create new employment opportunities and retain positions to process and analyze data generated through the proposed study.


ARRA Re-entry and Diversity supplements are providing an opportunity to increase the number of underrepresented individuals, individuals with disabilities, and socioeconomically disadvantaged scientists conducting competitive cancer research.

The Supplements support research employment and training opportunities in the biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and/or population sciences at the predoctoral, postdoctoral, postbaccalaureate, and post-master’s career levels, as well as junior investigators and physician-scientists developing independent research. These Supplements are aimed at supporting the re-entry of talented individuals from underrepresented backgrounds into cancer and cancer health disparities research.

  • Candidate: Helen Vervoot, Ph.D.

    PI: Professor Philip O. Crews
    Dept of Chemistry and Biochemistry
    University of California Santa Cruz

Targeted Discovery of Marine-derived Anticancer Leads

Dr. Vervoot received a Re-entry Supplement to continue her career in natural product drug discovery for new anticancer agents against solid tumors. After a six-year hiatus from research to care for her newborn twin girls, Dr. Vervoot returns to academia.

Working in collaboration with the Marine Bioorganic Chemistry Group at UC Santa Cruz, Dr. Vervoot’s research aims to discover and develop leads for new anticancer agents against solid tumors of the colon/rectum, lung, breast, and prostate. In addition, this ARRA Supplement will allow undergraduates to work alongside Dr. Vervoort, creating additional jobs.

  • Candidate: Bradley Nefsky, Ph.D.

    PI: Dr. Timothy Block
    Professor and Director
    Institute for Biotechnology and Virology Research
    Drexel University College of Medicine
    Philadelphia, PA

Liver Cancer and the Role of Protein Hyper-Fucosylation

Dr. Nefsky always wanted to be a scientist and his initial research work resulted in two publications in biochemistry and enzymology. When his mother became ill, Dr. Nefsky had to take a two-year leave to assist in her care. Sadly, his mother died a year later.

Through his Re-entry Supplement, Dr. Nefsky seeks to establish an independent research program focused on cancer mechanisms, with an emphasis on early detection. Dr. Nefsky’s long-term career goals are to teach and mentor other young scientists.

  • Candidate: Chantey Morris, Ph.D.

    PI: Dr. Kay-Uwe Wagner
    Associate Professor
    Eppley Institute for Research in Cancer/Allied Diseases
    University of Nebraska Medical Center

Tsg101- A Modulation of ErbBe Signaling in Breast Cancer

Dr. Morris was the first member of her family to graduate from college and attain a doctoral degree. She had completed two years on her three-year Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award when she had to return home to care for her mother and handle her own personal health issues. Dr. Moore stayed abreast of new science trends through courses at the UNMC Eppley Cancer Institute.

Reentering research after four years has given Dr. Morris a fresh set of eyes to view her former research and propose new solutions. With this Re-entry Supplement, Dr. Morris will expand her laboratory management skills; learn to write and update animal study and institutional biosafety protocols, which are an essential part of the proposed experiments; and be trained on how to keep records on the use of chemicals and radioactive materials.

Diversifying the Workforce

  • Candidate: Jacob Manjarrez

    PI: Dr. Robert Matts
    Sarkey’s Distinguished Professor
    Dept of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
    Oklahoma State University

Indent of Natural Products Inhibitors of Hsp90 as Chemotherapeutic Agents

As a Native American, Jacob Manjarrez realized it would be challenging to embark on a career in the sciences without a strong mentor. Mr. Manjarrez's scientific interest is in the area of protein-drug interactions.

Working in the lab of Dr. Robert Matts, Mr. Manjarrez will learn how to express and purify recombinant proteins, enriching his research background and making him more competitive for postdoctoral positions in higher profile laboratories. With support from ARRA, Mr. Manjarrez will gain valuable experience in using a high-throughput technique for application to biospecimen science, and in using microarrays. His long-term goal is to achieve a postdoctoral fellowship and one day become a faculty member pursuing causal relationships between Autism spectrum disorders and environmental toxins.

  • Candidate: Michael Duncan, Ph.D.

    PI: Dr. Raghu Kalluri
    Chief, Division of Matrix Biology
    Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
    Harvard Medical School
    Dept of Biological Chemistry & Molecular Pharmacology
    Boston, MA

Role of Fibroblasts in Cancer

Dr. Duncan’s love for science began at a very young age. He remembers spending afternoons after school exploring his backyard for bugs, rocks, and arrowhead fossils. Both of his parents were educators, and in helping them prepare their classrooms he gained a love for teaching and setting positive attitudes.

During his postdoctoral studies, Dr. Duncan noticed the low numbers of minority faculty teaching at major research institutions and is committed to pursuing a career as an academic faculty member conducing biomedical research in molecular and cellular biology. His postdoctoral advisor, Dr. Raghu Kalluri, is providing Dr. Duncan an opportunity to continue his training and achieve his goal of attaining a faculty position at a cancer research institution. He has coauthored several research papers and a book chapter, and was awarded the UNCF/Merck Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2007.

  • Candidate: Abha Sharma, Ph.D.

    PI: Dr. Sanjay Awasthi
    Resident Assistant Professor
    Dept of Molecular Biology and Immunology
    University of North Texas Health Science Center

Mechanism of Drug Transport in Lung Cancer Cells

Dr. Sharma, who is deaf, aspires to establish herself as an independent researcher in molecular biology and immunology.

With this ARRA Supplement, Dr. Sharma’s research study will investigate the regulatory role of RLIP76-mediated transport of GSH-conjugates of lipid aldeydes. These studies seek to enhance our understanding of the mechanisms of drug transport in lung cancer cells and its relationship with cellular apoptotic signaling.

Diversity Training - Emerging Technologies

The field of emerging and advanced technologies has been identified as an increasingly important area for training. ARRA funds provided an opportunity to enhance the application of emerging technologies to cancer research through increased training and educational opportunities.

An ET CURE application from Drs. Cathy Meade and John Koomen from the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute was funded to create a year round research training program in emerging technologies for undergraduate students with a focus on clinical proteomics. Consistent with ARRA goals, this training program in emerging technologies will create seven new positions and provide continued support of staff scientists.

Geographic Management Program (GMaP)

The GMap initiative seeks to create state-of-the-art regional networks dedicated to cancer heath disparities research and training. Its goals are to advance the science of CHD, contribute to the next generation of CHD researchers, and through its networks, achieve measurable outcomes in CHD in these regions.

GMaP Region 5

One of six ARRA-supported GMaP regions, PIs from the NCI-funded CNP, PNRP, and MI/CCP projects in GMaP Region 5 (composed of Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) are working collaboratively to develop a systematic and comprehensive strategy for building a northeast U.S. region-based network for the support and efficient management of cancer health disparities research, training, and infrastructure. Working through the Lincoln University- Fox Chase Cancer Center, under the leadership of Dr. Delroy Louden and team, the CNP, PNRP, and MI/CCP projects in this region plan to establish four cores, identify one or more theme research areas, and develop an implementation plan that will chart the future course of cancer health disparities research, training, and infrastructure within Region 5.

Minority Biospecimen/Biobanking – Geographic Management Program (BMaP)

BMaP, the first GMaP elective area for development, seeks to ensure the adequate and continuous supply of high-quality human biospecimens from medically underserved communities for cancer research.

BMaP Region 3

Working cooperatively, the MI/CCP, CNP, and PNRP grantees within the southeast region of the U.S., Region 3, are planning to develop a much-needed foundation and infrastructure to ensure high-quality human biospecimens within their region. Coordinated through the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, under the leadership of Dr. Jack Pledger, this effort will take into account the cultural sensitivities of the many diverse communities within this region. The overall aim of the BMaP Region 3 project is to develop a regional network to ensure that these unique tissues are collected in a culturally competent manner and appropriately stored, and provide for studies that will allow powerful interpretation of differences and associations with cancer processes.

MI/CCP Faculty Startup Recruitment Supplements

The Minority Institution/Cancer Center Partnership, initiated in 2001, is a program that enables minority-serving institutions and NCI Cancer Centers (CCs) to train scientists from diverse backgrounds in cancer research and effectively deliver cancer advances to racially and ethnically diverse communities.

Meharry Medical College

With ARRA funding, Meharry Medical College (MMC) is recruiting a new physician-investigator to join the Meharry Medical College-Vanderbilt Institution CCC MI/CCP partnership as a tenure track faculty at MMC. A surgical oncologist has been identified with basic and clinical cancer research experience and strong enthusiasm to join MMC. MMC has pledged additional years of support to the new faculty, and is looking forward to productive work. The candidate plans to focus his research on any two of these areas within the first three years:

  • Investigate molecular markers and transduction pathways that play a key role in the development of pancreatic cancer, including the role of cytokines, oncogenes, and immune modulation;
  • Investigate the genetic profile of breast cancer among young minority women with triple-negative disease;
  • Investigate potential tumor biomarkers for solid organs and their efficacy in early diagnosis with early cancer screening for moderate- to high-risk populations; and/or
  • Study potential for nanotechnology in delivery of therapies into cancer cells for tumor-specific apoptosis or bioablative therapy.
  • Howard University

    Howard University requested and received ARRA funding to assist its partner, the Sydney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center (SKCCC) at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in hiring a physician-scientist epidemiologist to lead and expand their cancer prevention activities as part of their MI/CCP. The University will continue to support this individual after the two-year grant and protect at least 75 percent of his/her time for research during the awards and for at least two years following this award. The Partnership has identified an individual, Dr. Adeyink Laiyemo, who is completing his M.P.H. at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and has just completed his residency and fellowship training at Howard University. His primary mentor will be at SKCCC, and he will be hired into a tenure track position.

    Morehouse School of Medicine

    The Morehouse School of Medicine, in partnership with the University of Alabama and Tuskegee University, proposes to implement a career development program for junior physician-scientists that would provide mentoring opportunities in the area of cancer prevention and control. Training will be in community participatory research through the Morehouse School of Medicine. These junior investigators will be hired at the assistant professor level, with plans for them to become faculty in the Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine.

    University of Puerto Rico

    The University of Puerto Rico (UPR) plans to use ARRA funding to support the hiring of a hematologist/medical oncologist in its MI/CCP program with the H. Lee Moffit Cancer Center. The applicant, Dr. Maribel Tirado-Gomez, is an assistant professor at the UPR with a focus on patient-oriented translational research. She plans to conduct pilot research on DNA methylation in Puerto Rican acute myeloid leukemia.

    Updated: 05/16/13