Aniko Vigh, M.D.

Funded by 2020 Kay Yow Cancer Fund Final Four Research Award

Since the mid-1960s, New Orleans has had a majority African American (AA) population, many of whom are poor and uninsured.  This, along with a lack of communication, misunderstanding of clinical research and limited funding for education and outreach, has led to a lack of access to clinical cancer research trials among this demographic.

The goal of this program is to assist in the enrollment of cancer patients and those at risk for cancer into clinical research trials, with particular emphasis on outreach, recruitment and enrollment of minority patients.

Pivotal to this effort is a patient navigator with extensive training in cultural competence who will be assigned specifically to clinical research.  In addition to assisting enrollment in trials at our clinical sites, the Navigator will also use Tulane’s established relationships with community organizations, community leadersarea physicians and affiliate sites to help educate minorities about clinical research.

The Navigator will identify and approach prospective study patients; build a relationship with themtheir caregivers and family members; and guide them through the enrollment process while serving as an essential link between the patient and the study team.  

Rabia Cattie, MD

Funded by Hooters of America, LLC

While breast cancer in the United States is highest in white women, the mortality and incidence of more virulent forms of cancer are higher in black women. An under- representation of black women in clinical trials prevents a full understanding of how new drugs will potentially affect them and limits our effectiveness in treating future black women with breast cancer. The purpose of this research is to identify the specific reasons for low enrollment of black women in breast cancer trials in southeast Louisiana and develop means of addressing the barriers to participation. 

John Cole, M.D.

Funded by Hooters of America LLC

The purpose of our project is to create educational materials that can be used to increase the awareness of a minority populations of the benefits of cancer clinical trials. Our expectation is that an increased awareness will help make cancer clinical trials more understandable and will increase the likelihood that they will be considered as an excellent option for minority cancer patients needing therapy. 

In order to create the educational materials, we plan to bring together a multidisciplinary group of cancer providers which will include physicians, nurses, social workers, and cancer research coordinators. This group will help develop the educational information. In addition, we will also bring together minority cancer patients to advise us as to potential concerns or barriers that minority patients may have in regards to clinical trials. In this way we will be able to address those concerns in our educational materials. 

Utilizing the information that we will obtain from these activities, we plan to create an educational video that can be distributed and shown to minority cancer patients that will help them have a deeper understanding of the benefits of cancer clinical trials. This approach will be applicable across all cancers. 

Victoria Belancio, Ph.D.

Funded by The Kay Yow Cancer Fund

Long Interspersed Element-1 (L1) retrotransposon is the driving force of all transposon-induced mutagenesis in the human genome. L1-induced mutagenesis has taken a center stage after new L1 insertions have been identified in cancer-promoting genes, suggesting that L1 mutations may be driving human cancers. This study is focused on lung cancer because many lung malignancies are deficient in a cellular pathway shown to suppress L1-induced damage in cultured cells. This funding allowed us to develop a reliable pipeline for Next Generation Sequencing analysis of L1 expression. The funding also provided the opportunity to further our understanding of the impact of L1-induced damage in lung cancer in vivo.

John Cole, M.D.

Funded by Hooters of America, LLC

Clinical research is one of the most important ways that we learn what the best treatments are for patients with cancer. Clinical research often tests new types of treatment or new procedures, with the hope that more patients will benefit from the new treatment. Benefits can include improved chances of responding to therapy, fewer side effects and or safer treatments, and most importantly, in some cases, a better chance for cure.

Unfortunately, some groups of patients do not participate in clinical trials. This lack of participation may be due to obstacles or barriers to participation. Barriers can include difficulty in understanding cancer clinical trials or fear of participation in any type of experimental treatment.

The goal of our research project is to develop a better understanding of what barriers may exist in our community (the Greater New Orleans Region) and to develop educational programs to address concerns that some patients may have. We plan to develop a set of educational materials and create opportunities for community education which utilizes both printed materials and live community interactive educational activities.

These actions, if successful, will lead to a greater understanding of cancer clinical trials in cancer and potentially enhance the participation of minority and underrepresented groups in cancer clinical trials.

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