The Cancer Population Sciences Research Program at the University of New Mexico Cancer Center is a highly interactive transdisciplinary research program of laboratory scientists, translational and clinical investigators, epidemiologists, statisticians, and community-based researchers who are focused on discovering the factors that promote the strikingly different patterns of cancer incidence and mortality in New Mexico's multiethnic, multicultural populations (which are predominantly Hispanic (42%), American Indian (10%), and non-Hispanic White (45%), and ultimately overcoming these disparities. The 42 Program Members (30 Full and 12 Associate Members) are from 5 Departments in the UNM School of Medicine (Internal Medicine, Family and Community Medicine, Pediatrics, Radiology, and Surgery), two Departments on the UNM Main Campus (Psychology, Mathematics and Statistics), and the UNM College of Pharmacy, the UNM College of Nursing, the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, the U.S Indian Health Service, the Center for Native American Health, and the Albuquerque Area Southwest Tribal Epidemiology Center. The Scientific Goals of this Program are to: 1) identify the genetic, environmental, and social factors that can influence cancer etiology in the multi-ethnic populations of New Mexico; 2) identify the genetic, epigenetic, environmental and behavioral factors that can improve early detection through screening; 3) evaluate the genetic, environmental, and social factors that can influence cancer mortality and survival, and 4) develop an infrastructure for future community and clinical interventions to reduce the disparities in cancer incidence and survival among the multi-ethnic populations in New Mexico.
These aims are being pursued within the framework of four tumor-specific translational themes: Lung Cancer, Skin Cancer/Melanoma, Breast Cancer, and Gastrointestinal Cancer. Program members have also developed a comprehensive Community Outreach Arm which provides a critical interface to New Mexico's urban, rural, Hispanic, and American Indian communities. This Community Outreach Arm provides community-based education, training, navigation, and empowerment, laying the groundwork for community-based participatory research and intervention. Since the prior NCI P30 CCSG review in 2005, the program's intraprogrammatic (31%) and interprogrammatic interactions (22%) have increased dramatically, as measured by joint publications and grants. Since 2005-2007, while the program's total funding is nearly constant, NCI funding has increased 22%. Working collaboratively with their program mentors, the 13 new junior investigators who have been recruited to the program since 2005 (4 of whom are Hispanic or American Indian), are building the program's science and funding base. Program members currently hold a total of $7,040,944 in direct cost annual funding, of which $6,940,944 is peer-reviewed, and $2,382,202 (34%) is from NCI, demonstrating the strong cancer-focus of the Program. Program members also received an additional $1,364,007 in annual NCI SEER direct cost funding in support of The New Mexico Tumor Registry. Given the focus in the program on lung and gastrointestinal malignancies, the Aerodigestive Cancer and Gastrointestinal Cancer Clinical Working Groups are affiliated with the Program. From 7/1/08-7/1/09, these clinical working groups had 332 accruals to UNM Cancer Center clinical trials, 91 of which were accruals to therapeutic trials. Program members are investigators in a joint NCI SPORE Grant in Lung Cancer with Johns Hopkins {P50CA058184; Project PI: Belinsky) and are developing a new SPORE in Melanoma (PI: Berwick) for submission in January 2010 with members of the University of Colorado Cancer Center. Program members have significant collaborations with the Cancer Biology and Biotechnology and Womens Cancers Programs.

Public Health Relevance

A Cancer Population Sciences Research Program is an essential program at the UNM Cancer Center to understand the distinctive cancer patterns in the multiethnic, multicultural populations of New Mexico. These patterns show wide disparities among the diverse multi-ethnic populations in the state (42% Hispanic/Latino, 10% Native Americans, >50% rural, and neariy 25% of whom live in poverty). Underiying these disparities are barriers to cancer screening and access to treatment. Understanding the reasons for these cancer patterns is critical for ultimately designing and testing interventions to overcome these disparities.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Center Core Grants (P30)
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Subcommittee G - Education (NCI)
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University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center
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