Published on August 06, 2014

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

MEMPHIS, TENN., — 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 in Oxford, Miss., Columbus, Miss., and Jonesboro, Ark., 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 is among the poorest in the nation and comprises 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 Edge.

One of the nation's largest not-for-profit health care systems, Baptist Memorial Health Care offers a full continuum of care to communities throughout the Mid-South. In 2012, Baptist was ranked No. 2 among large employers and No. 23 overall nationally in Modern Healthcare magazine's top 100 “Best Places to Work in Healthcare.” The Baptist system, which consistently ranks among the top integrated health care networks in the nation, comprises 14 affiliate hospitals in West Tennessee, North Mississippi and East Arkansas; more than 4,000 affiliated physicians; Baptist Medical Group, a multispecialty physician group with more than 500 doctors; home, hospice and psychiatric care; minor medical centers and clinics; a network of surgery, rehabilitation and other outpatient centers; and an education system highlighted by the Baptist College of Health Sciences. The Baptist system employs 15,000 people, and in fiscal year 2012, contributed $229 million in community benefit to the areas it serves. According to the Sparks Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Memphis, Baptist Memorial Health Care's annual economic impact is estimated at more than $2.6 billion.

To learn more about the NCORP program, please visit ncorp.cancer.gov.

For more information about Baptist, please visit www.baptistonline.org or call 800-4-BAPTIST.

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