UH Moment

UH Moment: A Partnership To Tackle Cancer Health Disparities

“We hope to combine the strengths of the two institutions for drug discovery development and education.”

Diana Chow, UH College of Pharmacy Pharmaceutics professor and director of its Institute for Drug Education and Research, is leading the UH side of a partnership with Baylor to develop a joint cancer drug discovery and research education program aimed at cancer disparities.

Although cancer affects all populations in the United States, certain ethnic populations bear a disproportionate burden of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. NCI has awarded the University of Houston College of Pharmacy and Baylor College of Medicine a $2.17 million grant to develop a joint cancer drug discovery/development and research education program to focus on cancers that affect underserved communities.

“We hope to combine the strengths of the two institutions for drug discovery development and education,” said Diana Chow, director of the Institute for Drug Education and Research at UH.

Liver cancer has a higher incidence rate among African Americans and Hispanics than among Caucasians, and certain types of breast and prostate cancers have higher incidence and mortality in the African-American population. The research will use the expertise of the two institutions to find new drugs to treat these cancers.

“They are very active in drug discovery and we have the experience and track record to develop the potential candidates into a drug product,” Chow said.    

The program will also address the lack of diversity in the cancer research workforce by recruiting a more ethnically diverse pool of cancer researchers, while enhancing current researchers’ awareness and knowledge of cancer health disparities.

“UH is a minority-serving university,” Chow said. “That makes it a good place to start this research and recruit students to pay attention to cancer health disparity.”

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