The University of Houston Health Initiative aims to increase the university’s partnerships with other Texas Medical Center entities. Directed by Dr. Kathryn Peek, the initiative will connect UH researchers with those in the industry.
“We have a number of faculty researchers on our campus who do leading-edge cancer research with great potential for changing the whole model of how cancer research is conducted in this country,” Peek said.
Part of that charge includes reaching high-risk populations who are not being reached by current education materials or campaigns. Jenny Yi is an associate professor of the UH Department of Health and Human Performance who researches cancer and Asian Americans. She is the recipient of a two-year grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) to study, create and implement interventions for Houston’s Vietnamese community.
“Vietnamese have a very high cervical cancer incident rate, about four or five times higher than white women, for unknown reasons,” Yi said.
Language, culture and trust issues may prevent awareness messages from reaching this population, Yi added. She will work with researchers from MD Anderson Cancer Center, the Vietnamese Nurses Association and the Harris County Hospital District. Additionally, she will work with the group Boat People SOS to help identify Vietnamese women from area apartment complexes.
More than 350 women between the ages of 18 and 26 will be surveyed about current awareness campaigns, as will mothers or care-givers of children ages 10-16.
“I’m interested in ‘what’s the best way to frame the message,'” Yi said. “I think we need to do more than just simply translating English to Vietnamese. That would be easy.”
CPRIT was created in 2007, when Texas voters approved Proposition 15, allowing the state to establish the institute and allow it to issue $3 billion in general obligation bonds over 10 years. The bonds will fund grants for cancer research and prevention. Yi is the first UH recipient of CPRIT grant monies.
Yi anticipates creating new education materials to raise awareness of cervical cancer and its interventions among Houston’s Vietnamese women. Eventually, she would like those materials to be translated into various Asian languages to target other high-risk populations.
Jenny Yi is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston. I’m Marisa Ramirez.
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