Natalia Rodriguez, PhD, MPH, Research Assistant Professor at the University of Miami (UM), is a biomedical engineer and global health researcher whose overarching career goal is to develop and improve upon mechanisms for successful uptake and systemic adoption of innovative cancer detection technologies through human-centered and community-based participatory design, in order to empower community health workforces, strengthen health systems, and improve health outcomes at the population level. There is a pressing and unmet need for an inexpensive HPV rapid diagnostic test (RDT) that is designed with the end-user in mind and amenable to rapid systemic adoption in any given context. The research Dr. Rodriguez proposes entitled, Community-based Participatory Design of a Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Rapid Diagnostic Test for Cervical Cancer Screening in South Florida, combines community-based participatory research (CBPR) methodology and human-centered design with health technology development to inform the design and translation of a rapid, point-of-care HPV molecular diagnostic test for community use in cervical cancer screening. Dr. Rodriguez?s previous work in technology development, specifically a molecular diagnostic platform for point-of-care testing of HPV, in combination with her current work in health systems and community health worker (CHW) training have prepared her to conduct the proposed research. Dr. Rodriguez proposes training activities that include didactic and experiential learning on: 1) Qualitative research study design and CBPR methodology; 2) Stakeholder engagement and human-centered design principles; 3) Implementation science and translational research; 4) Designing and conducting randomized control trials. The proposed career development plan will build upon her previous training to enhance her trajectory towards an independent investigator in public health and translational sciences. An outstanding multidisciplinary mentorship team will guide Dr. Rodriguez through the proposed research and training goals: Dr. Kobetz has expertise in CBPR, cancer disparities research and clinical trials, Dr. Daunert in molecular diagnostic development, and Dr. Knaul in health systems and policy, stakeholder engagement, and CHW training. The proposed research and career development plan utilize the breadth of resources at UM including the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the laboratory and prototyping facilities and equipment of the Biomedical Nanotechnology Institute at UM (BioNIUM) and UM?s Miller School of Medicine. The strong mentors, collaborators, and resources at UM ensure the success of the proposed research. This award will provide Dr. Rodriguez with the training and preliminary data needed to be successful in a future R01 study to validate the HPV RDT and will facilitate her development into an independent investigator and leader in translational research on cancer diagnostic tools for medically-underserved communities.
Existing cervical cancer screening methods are unsuitable for low-resource settings that lack the required infrastructure, equipment, and trained personnel, and do not consider the persistent sociocultural access barriers that exacerbate cancer disparities in the U.S. There is a pressing and unmet need for an HPV rapid diagnostic test (RDT) that is designed with real consideration of the end-user and community, social structure, and cultural context, in order to address specific needs, increase cervical cancer screening coverage, and ensure linkage to follow-up care. The objective of this proposal is to employ community-based participatory research methods to adapt a rapid HPV test prototype, tailor it to user- and stakeholder-informed target technical specifications to suit the needs of medically-underserved communities in South Florida, and train local CHWs to use it for community-based cervical cancer screening.