The Ponce Health Sciences University (PHSU) and the Moffitt Cancer Center (MCC) have forged a strong working relationship founded on seamless communication with mutual support and benefits. With Partnership resources and significant commitment from both institutions, we have established joint programs enhancing basic and clinical research, enriching cancer outreach, expanding cancer education, and creating a unique Hispanic/Latino (H/L) Biobank, leading to the development of a robust network and infrastructure necessary for a sustained long-term collaboration to improve cancer outcomes in the H/L population. The U54 Partnership's immediate impact includes the identification of new mutations in breast and lung cancer in H/L patients, recruitment of new faculty essential for sustainability and growth, and 84 community outreach educational activities for H/Ls in Florida (FL) and Puerto Rico (PR). The development of the Puerto Rico Biobank (PRBB) and the training of clinical researchers, with 25 clinical intervention trials activated in Ponce, demonstrate the broad impact realized through the Partnership. Furthermore the Partnership had a critical role in the ACGME re-accreditation of the Hematology/Oncology Fellowship in PR, in the establishment of two stem cell transplant programs in PR by fellows trained in the MCC Bone Marrow Transplant unit, and in the establishment of an ACGME-accredited surgical residency in Ponce with surgical oncology rotations at MCC. The short-term metrics of the first 4 years of the U54 Partnership grant include 48 student participants, 35 peer-reviewed manuscripts published, and 29 grants funded out of a total of 64 submitted. Our vision for the U54 PACHE renewal is to further grow and engage faculty and students in cancer precision medicine research that directly impacts the H/L populations in FL and PR. The Partnership has the requisite components to fully execute precision medicine in an underserved population?a biobank, quantitative science core (QSC) to analyze data, culturally sensitive outreach materials, expertise in the latest technologies, and a robust research portfolio. The four specific aims for the U54 Partnership renewal are the following.
Aim 1 : To increase the number of researchers at PHSU focused on basic/translational research in cancer and to augment the number of researchers in cancer health disparities at MCC. This is facilitated with joint projects in ovarian and breast cancer.
Aim 2 : To further develop outreach programs and research efforts in the H/L communities at both PHSU and MCC. An epidemiological project will examine the impact of receipt of MC1R genotypes on personal sun protection behaviors.
Aim 3 : To increase support for basic, translational and clinical research in the H/L population by establishing the QSC and further developing the PRBB. The MCC Total Cancer Care protocol will be developed in Ponce hospitals and leveraged by the PRBB to facilitate tissue collection.
Aim 4 : To provide comprehensive and structured student research education at both PHSU and MCC to facilitate the expansion and success of cancer researchers and clinicians in the H/L population.

Public Health Relevance

Over the last 10 years, the Ponce Health Sciences University in Puerto Rico and the Moffitt Cancer Center in Florida have developed an exceptionally strong working relationship facilitated by the U56 Partnership Planning and U54 PACHE Comprehensive Partnership awards. The joint programs have resulted in successful outcomes in basic, translational, population and clinical research, as well as in cancer outreach, cancer education and training, and in biobanking. During the U54 Partnership renewal period there will be a focus on precision cancer medicine to address disparities regarding the representation of Hispanic/Latino populations in biorepositories and databases, and the ?omics? analyses of tumor and normal tissues from this underrepresented group.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Specialized Center--Cooperative Agreements (U54)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZCA1)
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Perruccio, Elizabeth M
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Ponce School of Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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