Baptist Cancer Center awarded $3 million grant to bridge gap in health care disparities

The National Cancer Institute recently designated the Baptist Cancer Center as one of 12 centers nationwide to spearhead clinical research focused on disparities in cancer care among minorities and historically underserved groups.

The work will be focused in Memphis, a city with among the highest disparities in cancer mortality in the U.S.

Baptist Cancer Center locations at Baptist North Mississippi, Baptist Golden Triangle and NEA Baptist will also participate under the Baptist Cancer Center umbrella.

The five-year grant, which totals more than $3 million, will distinguish Baptist as a minority/underserved site and will pull together the resources of a number of local organizations under the NCI’s Community Oncology Research Program, known as NCORP.

The organizations, which all have a commitment to effectively addressing health care disparities, include Meharry Medical College, which previously served as a minority-based community oncology program for the NCI. Other partners include the Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center, the University of Memphis School of Public Health, the Church Health Center, and others.

The grant will fund the enhancement of clinical trials, outreach for clinical trial education and enrollment, and support practices serving minority and rural populations. In collaboration with community primary care centers, the program will also address clinical research in screening, prevention and cancer surveillance. In addition, the NCORP program is addressing how cancer care is delivered through “cancer care delivery research.”

According to the NCI, Baptist was chosen because of its strength in the community and because of the demographics of the surrounding areas the health care system serves, which are among the poorest in the nation and comprise 40 percent African-Americans, five percent other minorities, and 25 percent rural areas.

Dr. Stephen B. Edge, director of the Baptist Cancer Center, will serve as the Baptist NCORP Principal Investigator, with medical oncologist Dr. Raymond Osarogiagbon serving as the leader of the cancer care delivery research team, and Dr. Philip Lammers as the lead investigator at the Meharry Medical College.

“Being part of the NCI’s NCORP Consortium and the National Clinical Trials Network gives Baptist the chance to help change the landscape of how cancer care is delivered in our community, and ultimately improve the outcome of cancer care,” said Dr. Edge.