The North Carolina Central University (NCCU)–DUKE Cancer Disparities Translational Research Partnership (NCCU-DCI-CDTRP) is focused on developing infrastructure for translational cancer health disparities research, education and training and on performing two such pilot research projects, focusing on the molecular aspects underlying the increased lethality of prostate and inflammatory breast cancer in African Americans, with direct application to prevention, detection and treatment.
This program is built on the long-standing relationship between the two Durham-based Institutions, less than four miles apart. NCCU is an institution serving underserved health disparity populations and underrepresented students (ISUPS), affiliated with the 17-member University of North Carolina system, and the Duke Cancer Institute (DCI) is an NCI-designated comprehensive Cancer Center (CC).
The partnership, focusing on translational cancer health disparities research and education and training of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and early-stage investigators (ESIs) in this field, which is described by the NIH Translational Research Working Group, will distinguish itself with synergistic complementarity to an existing U54 between NCCU and UNC, which focuses on sociocultural disparities research and education and training of undergraduate students.
To this partnership, the Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE) faculty at NCCU will bring a unique perspective from an ISUPS, expertise in pharmaceuticals, drug discovery and development, and existing extensive health disparities education and training programs. The CC, DCI, brings a unique distinguishing focus on biospecimen collection, correlative science in the context of clinical trials, development of racially diverse cancer patient-derived models and programs addressing minority accrual to treatment and biospecimen collection clinical trials.
Development of the partnership occurred and is continuing around planning and priority-setting stages, including the selection of co-developed, collaborative pilot research projects and creation of a fully integrated, bi-directional, mutually beneficial Cancer Research Education Program (CREP). The implementation stage will launch the pilot research projects, utilizing nearly 25 shared resources between NCCU and Duke, the CREP and the engagement of underserved minority populations across the region and state, with complementary existing programming mutually emanating from NCCU, which directly serves a minority community, and DCI’s Office of Health Equity and Disparities.