In the past decade, Xavier University of Louisiana has embarked on an ambitious, strategic initiative to enhance its research competitiveness in biomedical fields. Our long term goal is to, in the next 5 to 7 years, be seen nationally not only for our eminence in graduating African American science, pre-med and pharmacy students, but also for national prominence in cancer research. Since 2002, in spite of the destruction rendered by Katrina, Xavier has made significant advances toward achieving this goal through the establishment of both the Center for Minority Health Disparities, launched in 2002, and through membership in the Louisiana Cancer Research Consortium. Xavier researchers have received significant external funding for cancer research from the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, National Cancer Institute, and Louisiana Board of Regents, among others. To determine what next steps needed to be taken to build on the above-described progress and take Xavier "to the next level," a comprehensive RCMI planning process was carried out through faculty and staff surveys, focus groups, and forums, with the assistance of a variety of external advisors. As a result, barriers to competitiveness and strategies to overcoming them were identified in such areas as recruiting and retaining research competitive faculty, infrastructural support for biomedical research, and lack of centralized core laboratories with supporting staff. To address these barriers, this proposal requests funding to assist Xavier in: (1) increasing the number and quality of Cancer researchers and providing them with start-up packages, release time, and mentoring opportunities;2) enhancing the competitiveness of existing research faculty and programs by providing seed funding for developmental projects, enhanced professional development opportunities and increased access to postdoctoral associates and research staff;(3) developing three research instrumentation cores;(4) offering enhanced administrative services to assure research support activities meet faculty needs, and (5) supporting selected pilot projects that will assist investigators who are at the "cusp" of becoming fully competitive.
Nationally, and particularly in Louisiana, there are significant disparities between Caucasians and African Americans with regard to Cancer incidence and mortality. African Americans have the highest mortality rate of any racial and ethnic group for most major cancers, making it a major health and human concern.
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