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Grant aims to bring basic scientists and community stakeholders together

Ronald Chen

September 23, 2020

Community outreach and engagement is a pillar of The University of Kansas Cancer Center’s National Cancer Institute designation. A one-year, $150,000 supplement for the P30 Cancer Center Support Grant will be used to cultivate collaborations between basic scientists and community stakeholders.

Specifically, the funds will be used to support the launch of a new program specifically designed to train basic scientists on communication and collaboration with patient research partners. Cancer center basic scientists focus on the fundamental biology of cancer. Ronald Chen, MD, MPH, associate director for health equity, is leading the effort.

“We strive to ensure our research efforts are finely tuned to the needs of our catchment area, which includes the entire state of Kansas and western Missouri,” Dr. Chen said. “Cancer biology is a particularly complex topic, and basic scientists usually work out of a lab. Collaborations between the researcher and cancer survivors, co-survivors, as well as other community members, can help ensure the research focuses on meeting the needs of cancer patients.”

The cancer center has several programs that help facilitate back-and-forth conversations between researchers and community members. Patient and Investigator Voices Organizing Together, PIVOT for short, is a patient research advocacy initiative. Advocates bring their experiences and insights to every stage of research, giving scientists a fresh way to approach their work. The cancer center’s Community Advisory Board is comprised of representatives from the diverse geographic areas, ethnicities and lifestyles in our catchment area. Members help facilitate communication between community members, organizations and cancer center leadership, nurturing and deepening the connection to those we serve. 

“Our clinical and population health researchers have forged strong connections to the community through these and other programs,” Dr. Chen said. “The goal is to empower our basic scientists to do the same.”

Elements of the training program, which were developed with support from PIVOT, will include:

The program will continue beyond the grant timeframe, with the goal of establishing and strengthening long-lasting collaborations.

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