The proposed research project falls into the category of Basic and Applied Biomedical Research. The overall goal of the project is to better understand the role of genetic factors in mediating accelerated prostate cancer (CaP) progression in African American (AA) men. Specifically, we will elucidate the mechanisms which cause decreased Nrdp1 levels and subsequent dysfunction of the AR-ErbB3-Nrdp1 signaling axis in AA CaP cells. We will determine the stage of disease at which dysfunction occurs, and confirm that this dysfunction causes accelerated CaP in AA patients. Understanding the causes of reduced Nrdp1 levels and dysfunction of the AR- ErbB3-Nrdp1 signaling axis in AA CaP patients will allow for the development of therapeutics to restore Nrdp1 levels and AR-ErbB3-Nrdp1 signaling axis function. Assessment of Nrdp1, AR, and ErbB3 at different disease stages will potentially allow for the development of these molecules as prognostic biomarkers. Development of improved biomarkers and therapeutics is needed to help address CaP health disparities. More than 75% of CNUCOP students are from minority populations. Historically, relatively few pharmacists engage in research. This is likely due to lack of exposure to research during pharmacy school; unlike medical schools, research is not mandatory component of the pharmacy curriculum. The proposed project will expose and engage minority pharmacy students to meritorious research and thereby promote their ability and desire to choose a health disparities research orientated career. Engagement of pharmacists in health disparities research is important because as the most accessible and one of the most trusted health care professionals pharmacists can make a significant impact in local communities, and in particular minority populations. Often, they serve as the initial health care educators, screeners, consultants, and gatekeepers to the community, referring self-managing and self-medicating patients to physicians. By enrolling in a PharmD program CNUCOP students have already demonstrated a commitment to a career in biomedical and behavioral science; exposure and engagement in the proposed research study will stimulate them to consider further specializing in health disparities research. The use of patient specimens and data will help students realize the importance of health disparities research. Mechanistic studies will challenge them to think of ways in which health disparities can be addressed. Active mentorship from the PI will further stimulate them to consider a career in health disparities research.
The proposed project will increase our understanding of the role and contribution of specific genetic factors to accelerated and/or earlier incidence of prostate cancer in African American men, and facilitate the development and appropriate of biomarkers and therapeutics which can be used to help address prostate cancer health disparities. The project will engage minority pharmacy students; historically, pharmacists have not played an active role in research but as one of the accessible and most trusted health care professionals they have the potential to help address health disparities which exist in local communities through engagement in research. The proposed research as well as interactions with UC Davis faculty will strengthen the health disparities research environment at CNUCOP.