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UC Davis Health System

UC Davis Health System

Asian-American center to reduce disparities in cancer launched at UC Davis

Asian friends visit in kitchen © iStockphoto
UC Davis is now home to a national center dedicated to reducing cancer disparities among Asian-Americans.

Posted Oct. 13, 2010

UC Davis Cancer Center is now home to the National Center for Reducing Asian American Cancer Health Disparities, the only such national center for Asian-Americans designated by the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities to research populations disproportionately affected by the disease.

The $5.6 million research grant builds upon more than a decade of accomplishments by the Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness Research and Training (AANCART) that has increased cancer awareness and builds community-centered research capacity to address cancer issues among Asian-Americans.

The center will continue to function as a consortium of organizations, including UC Davis, UC San Francisco, Chinese Community Health Resource Center in San Francisco, Hmong Women’s Heritage Association in Sacramento, UCLA, University of Hawaii and the University of Washington.

AANCART was established in 2000 and housed at UC Davis Cancer Center since 2002 under the leadership of Moon Chen, professor of hematology and oncology.

Dr. Moon Chen © UC Regents“Funding of the national center is a stewardship responsibility given to us by the National Cancer Institute to address the unique, unusual and unnecessary cancer burden confronting Asian-Americans.”
— Moon Chen

“Funding of the national center is a stewardship responsibility given to us by the National Cancer Institute to address the unique, unusual and unnecessary cancer burden confronting Asian-Americans,” said Chen, the lead principal investigator for the effort. “Asian-Americans are the only U.S. racial group that experiences cancer as the leading cause of death. Our cancer burden is unusual in that we experience disproportionately high rates of cancers due to infectious origins such as liver cancer, as well as increasing rates of colon cancer. The center will focus on reducing this unnecessary cancer burden.”

Chen will share leadership of the center with two AANCART colleagues: Tung T. Nguyen, professor of clinical medicine and co-director of the Vietnamese Community Health Promotion Project at UC San Francisco and AANCART research director, and Edward A. Chow, chair of the Chinese Community Health Resource Center in San Francisco.

The research grant funds four components to reduce disparities in cancer prevention and incidence in Asian-American populations:

Research project on how to reduce disparities in colorectal screening rates using a controlled trial at multiple sites. Asian-Americans have significantly lower colorectal screening rates than non-Hispanic whites. This study will target Korean-Americans in Los Angeles, Filipino-Americans in Hawaii and Hmong-Americans in Sacramento to increase colorectal cancer screening rates in these populations.  This will be the first-ever controlled, community-based intervention trial to be simultaneously conducted and coordinated among three Asian-American ethnic groups.

Outreach. Partnerships between community groups and university researchers and an NCI-funded community-health educator are part of the new National Cancer Institute-funded National Outreach Network focusing on cancer education particularly for Chinese-, Filipino-, Hmong-, Korean- and Vietnamese-Americans in their native languages.

Pilot study on biospecimen collection. Researchers will assess understanding, attitudes and behaviors relating to biospecimen collection among Chinese-Americans. This information will help researchers understand cultural and other factors that affect the collection of biospecimens needed to advance cancer research.

Training program. This program will develop the careers of young Asian-American investigators whose research interests span a variety of cancer health disparities affecting Asian Americans.

Dr. Ralph deVere White © UC Regents“Five years ago we set out to make reducing health disparities a major focus of this cancer center. Because of all we have achieved during that time this new national center grant means that it has truly been recognized that UC Davis is the center of the country’s fight to eliminate cancer-health disparities in Asian-Americans.”
— Ralph deVere White

“Five years ago we set out to make reducing health disparities a major focus of this cancer center,” said Ralph deVere White, UC Davis Cancer Center director. “Because of all we have achieved during that time this new national center grant means that it has truly been recognized that UC Davis is the center of the country’s fight to eliminate cancer-health disparities in Asian-Americans.”

Chow, a charter member of AANCART, San Francisco health commissioner and leader in the Chinese-American health care community, said the grant strengthens the pioneering work already established to address Asian health disparities.

“I am so thrilled that the NCI has seen fit to build upon our short 10 years of building an infrastructure to address the cancer burden confronting Asian-Americans and to recognize the central role of the community in this fight against cancer," he said.

Nguyen, of UC San Francisco, said the Center will deepen the collaborations in research that have been established by the university with the Asian-American communities in the Bay Area and nationally.

“We are especially proud of the fact that Dr. Chow is a principal investigator on this grant from the NCI,” Nguyen said. “This exemplifies the priority that UC San Francisco and UC Davis place on conducting collaborative research with the surrounding communities with respect to cancer disparities."