The “U54 Partnership”: Partners in eliminating cancer disparities
In 1999, the Centers for Disease Control’s Office of Minority Health Disparities and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) launched several new initiatives to establish cancer research partnerships between NCI Cancer Centers and Minority Serving Institutions. These initiatives arose from the disturbing observation that, although minorities including African-Americans suffer a disproportionate burden of cancer deaths in this country, neither the cancer centers alone nor minority serving institutions had been able to address the problem.
The objective of the NCI program was to strengthen the capabilities of minority serving institutions to engage in effective research collaborations with their neighboring cancer centers, with the ultimate goal of reducing the high cancer incidence and death rates among minorities. Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University forged the MMC-VICC partnership through a supplement to the VICC (Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center) Support Grant (CCSG) in 1999. In 2000, Drs. Samuel Adunyah and Harold Moses successfully competed for one of only two U54 NCI Comprehensive Partnership Grants that were funded in the country.
In 2006 the two principal investigators successfully competed for another five years of funding, which awarded Meharry $10 million through 2011. During this time, Tennessee State University was added as a full member of the partnership, creating a triad between Meharry Medical College, Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center, and TSU, with TSU housing the Cancer Outreach Component of the partnership. In 2011, the partnership successfully competed for its U54 grant from NCI, which brought another $16 million to the partnership to support research and training activities for five years. The current leadership of the partnership is comprised of Drs. Samuel E. Adunyah and Philip E. Lammers (Meharry Medical College), Hal Moses and Ann Richmond (VICC), and Baqar Husaini and Margaret Whalen (TSU).
This grant represents one of the very few U54s with a balanced focus on population science, basic research, and clinical research.