Low-income rural communities experience significant cancer health disparities, including lower screening rates, increased incidence, later stage at detection, poorer survival, and higher mortality. The Southern Illinois University School of Medicine (SIUSM) and its Simmons Cancer Institute serve much of the central rural, southern rural, and Delta regions of Illinois. These rural communities have higher poverty rates and are medically underserved with disparately high cancer burden. SIUSM has established a partnership with the NCI-designated Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center (SCC) at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, and Siteman's Prevention and Control Program, entitled, Addressing Rural Cancer Health Disparities: An SCC-SIUSM Partnership.
For more in-depth background on rural cancer health disparities, please download: Cancer Disparities in Downstate Illinois.
Planning activities were initiated in summer 2013. These collaborative planning activities included shared discussions, bi-monthly executive conference calls, in-person meetings at both sites, and early collaborative research efforts between Siteman and SIUSM investigators. An Internal Advisory Committee comprising representatives from each institution and key stakeholders from the region was formed and active in planning this Partnership.
Dr. Graham Colditz explains the partnership goals at the July 2016 retreat.The partnership goals are to:
1) Build SIUSM cancer research capacity and support SIUSM faculty in transitioning to NIH-funded cancer disparities research
2) Provide opportunities for mid- and senior-level investigators to engage in cross-institutional cancer research and increase the rural cancer research scope and capacity at SCC
3) Foster the development of postdoctoral scholars and junior faculty at both institutions to develop independent researchers in cancer disparities research.
We will use three strategies to achieve these goals:
1) Developed a new Pilot Research Program allowing junior investigators to gain research seed funding, collaborative experience and preliminary data for future NIH grants.
2) Siteman will provide SIUSM faculty and trainees with access to research seminars and other training opportunities at Siteman, and offer short-term investigator exchange programs.
3) The two institutions will share strategies for faculty early career development.