Florida A&M University (FAMU) has been selected to receive a five-year, $16 million partnership grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to establish a center that will address cancer health equity in Black and Latino populations, while also providing cancer research, education and training experiences.
This grant is led by two innovative FAMU scientists R. Renee Reams, Ph.D., and Kinfe “Ken” Redda, Ph.D., both are among the esteemed faculty in the FAMU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (COPPS). Awarded under the NCI’s U54/Comprehensive Partnerships to Advance Cancer Health Equity Program, the project is the first of its kind that allows parallel collaboration from multiple principal investigators from other universities, also known as a “Triad Partnership.” Institutions partnering with FAMU include the University of Florida and the University of Southern California. Funding for the project titled, “Florida-California Cancer Research, Education and Engagement (CaRE2) Health Equity Center” will be equally distributed across the three universities.
“Cancer is a devastating disease in the USA and globally. Although the morbidity and mortality rates have improved over the years, we have not yet succeeded in addressing all the health disparity issues we observe in Black and Latino populations. Florida and California have the fastest growing Latino populations and hence the impetus for this bicoastal partnership,” said Redda, who previously served as vice president for Research at FAMU, while managing an active medicinal chemistry research laboratory, which has produced five patented technologies.
For the past five years, Reams served as the principal investigator of FAMU’s highly successful NIH/NCI-funded FAMU Minority Cancer Research and Training Center, a partnership grant between FAMU and UF, which trained FAMU undergraduate students and provided pilot research funds to junior faculty.
“In line with FAMU’s long-term goal of addressing health disparities, and my work on prostate cancer health disparities nationally and globally, this grant represents a high point in my career as a cancer health disparity researcher,” Reams said. “This project will serve as a catalyst for creating new and outstanding research opportunities for FAMU that will profoundly impact the communities we serve. Dr. Redda and I will have the opportunity to serve as equal partners in steering a successful research program that will positively impact the health of so many individuals.”
The grant will also support efforts for FAMU to provide research-training opportunities for underrepresented undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and early-stage investigators (ESI) and will promote their individual research and career development.
Leaders of this “Triad” collectively have expertise in translational genomics (a branch of biotechnology), molecular epidemiology, cancer health disparity, drug discovery, predictors of health disparities and intervention and management of cancer pain and end-of-life issues.
This five-year partnership grant funds the following core components at all three institutions:
- Planning and Evaluation
- Three Hypothesis-Driven Cancer Research Projects (Pancreatic & Prostate)
- Virtual Tumor Tissue Repository
- Biostatistics and Informatics
- Research Education and Training for students and junior faculty
- Community Engagement
Investigators participating in the “Triad” from FAMU include:
- Edward Agyare, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmaceutics
FAMU Research Project: “Enhancing Efficacy of Gemcitabine Nanoparticles in Pancreatic PDX Models”
- Renee Reams, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and medicinal chemistry section chair
USC Research Project: “Disparities in Mitochondrial Peptidomics and Transcriptomics in Prostate Cancer”
- Eun-Sook Lee, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology
UF Research Project: “Contribution of Racial Disparity towards the Early Development of Pancreatic Cancer”
- Hernan Flores-Rozas, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology-toxicology and Gebre-egziabher Kiros, Ph.D., professor of public health and biostatistics
FAMU Project: Managing the facilities of the shared resource core, tissue modeling core and bioinformatics and statistical and methodological core housed at FAMU
- Ken Redda, Ph.D., professor emeritus of medicinal chemistry and Bereket Mochona, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry
FAMU Project: Managing the research and education core designed to train and develop 26 undergraduate trainees, 28 post–baccalaureate trainees, 34 graduate students, 21 postdoctoral fellows and 25 ESI trainees
- Sandra Suther, Ph.D., professor and division director of Economic, Social and Administrative Pharmacy
FAMU Project: Managing the Community Outreach Core to assure the target populations are engaged in every aspect of the Center’s activities through cancer education and dissemination of research results to the lay community.
- Terrell Brown, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology
FAMU Project: Managing the planning and evaluation core to assist the team to achieve the stated goals, objectives and all milestones through appropriate evaluative mechanisms