Problems of mistrust and misunderstanding exist between community members and health care researchers.
This is the main reason why two local leaders – the Reverend Dr Deborah Thomas and Dr Carol Williams – are working together to launch a unique program to address these issues.
Known as the Cancer Disparities Curriculum for Research and Community Academics, their program will intentionally bring together members of the Milwaukee community and early career biomedical researchers to engage in shared learning.
Academics and researchers in the community will not only examine the origins, causes and factors that promote cancer disparities, but will also design potential solutions.
Cancer-related disparities are differences in outcomes (eg, incidence, diagnosis, and mortality) between groups of people.
Significant disparities occur depending on where people live, their race or ethnicity and gender, among other factors.
Biomedical cancer research often does not take into account these disparities and their biomedical impact (e.g. trauma, stress, nutrition, sleep), which limits advances in care for a greater diversity of people.
This program aims to reduce cancer-related disparities and remove barriers to health equity by increasing understanding of why disparities exist; address issues of mistrust, prejudice and racism head-on; and fostering relationships within communities to develop projects that meet their unique needs.
âDistrust of the field of health and biomedical research is widespread among community members,â said Rev. Deborah Thomas, retired MATC faculty member and founder and pastor of Kingdom ministry by House of Grace.
âResearchers may be unaware of the reasons for this mistrust and have a poor understanding of the social determinants behind cancer disparities. We want to eradicate these misunderstandings and help community members and researchers work together.
The program will provide opportunities for academics to learn, work effectively with each other, and build trust and equitable partnerships while developing a common understanding of the factors that promote cancer disparities. Fellows will participate in courses and conferences and create a project to present to other community members and researchers.
âOver the next few years, we hope to increase interest and enthusiasm for this program so that we can enroll more investigators,â said Dr. Williams, senior investigator in the MCW Cancer Center Biology Program.
The first cohort will meet in the fall of 2021 and will consist of eight to twelve academics – with an equal number from the community and biomedical research departments of the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Application documents can be obtained from [emailÂ protected].
The program is fully funded by Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment.