Photo Dr. deVere White, Linda Navarro and Dr. von Friederichs-Fitzwater © UC Regents Ralph deVere White, director of the UC Davis Cancer Center, Linda Navarro and Marlene von Frederichs-Fitzwater sign the MOU between UC Davis Cancer Center and Turtle Health Foundation.

In an effort to address disproportionately high cancer rates among American Indians, the UC Davis Cancer Center formalized and expanded a partnership with the non-profit Turtle Health Foundation to create and improve programs in cancer education, research and training for American Indian tribes and tribal communities.

"The partnership is a natural one," said Marlene M. von Friederichs-Fitzwater, director of the Outreach Research and Education Program at the UC Davis Cancer Center. "California is home to the nation's largest population of American Indians, who unfortunately have the poorest cancer survival rate in the United States."

A memorandum of understanding signed by both parties agrees to pursue joint grant applications for research, training and outreach development programs in cancer prevention and control, as well as for population-based studies. The partnership will also provide opportunities for American Indian undergraduate and graduate student research in clinical environments and establish scholarship programs for American Indian students in a broad range of scientific disciplines. These include nursing, physical therapy, health science, therapeutic recreation, medical social work, speech pathology, pre-med and medicine.

"The Turtle Health Foundation is extremely proud of the American Indian Advisory Council and its dedication and support in the development of the Mother's Wisdom Breast Health Awareness Program made possible through the UCD Cancer Center's Outreach Research and Education Program," said Linda D. Navarro, CEO, Turtle Health Foundation, Inc. "We are equally pleased with the formation of the MOU and are looking forward to an increased level of collaboration in the areas of research, education and prevention for the benefit of the American Indian community."

The new MOU builds upon a collaboration that began in 2005 when Turtle Health and UC Davis formed the American Indian Advisory Council to address breast cancer among American Indian women.

The UC Davis Cancer Center, the only NCI-designated cancer center between San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, offers a unique cancer research program including a model partnership that unites physicians and scientists from UC Davis with biomedical researchers and engineers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The Cancer Center's new Outreach Research and Education Program is dedicated to eliminating disparities in cancer prevention and screening.

Turtle Health Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit public benefit corporation that provides, coordinates and supports outstanding quality health care services for American Indians, employees and family members of Indian owned businesses, and other area residents who depend upon Indian Health Program clinics for primary care.