The P20 Cancer Health Disparities SPORE consists of two main research projects that focus on innovative translational research to reduce cancer disparities. Each project is co-led by a physician-scientist and either a basic or population scientist.
Project 1: Race-related RNA Splicing in Non-small Cell Lung Cancer: Functional Interrogation and Therapeutic Targeting
This project addresses the urgent need to functionally characterize and therapeutically target novel race-related RNA splicing targets in NSCLC. The proposed work focuses on understanding the biological differences between lung cancer from African American and white patients, and developing new tools to modulate these differences to treat aggressive lung cancer.
Project 2: Racial Differences in Host Immune Response and Gastric Carcinogenesis: Translating Underlying Biology to Promote Gastric Cancer Interception
This project asks important previously unanswered questions of the underlying biology mediating racial differences in gastric carcinogenesis. The goal is to address these gaps and translate biologic findings into new screening and surveillance strategies for clinical practice in order to address racial disparities and improve survival related to gastric cancer.
As of July 2021, two research projects were recently funded by the DRP, focusing on disparities in breast cancer as well as head and neck cancer. Brief descriptions are provided below.
Pilot Project 1: Biomarkers of Adaptive Stress Response and Immunosuppression Underlying Race-Based Disparities in Treatment Outcomes of Aggressive Breast Cancers
The project will address the urgent need to interrogate the molecular mechanisms driving the disparity in advanced triple negative breast cancer biology in African American and identify biomarkers that can be used to improve early and accurate diagnosis, especially in younger patients and women of color.
Pilot Project 2: Biologic Determinants of Racial Disparities in Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Tumor heterogeneity, a hallmark feature of head and neck cancer, is likely a major contributor to the disparate clinical outcomes observed between black and white patients with head and neck cancer. The project aims to understand how gene expression changes in discrete compartments (i.e. tumor versus tumor immune microenvironment) will significantly aid in furthering our understanding of racial disparities on a biologic level.