PHILADELPHIA — The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has been awarded a $12 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to fund a new Center of Excellence in Prostate Cancer Disparities.
The gap in prostate cancer mortality rates among black and white men -- 62 per 100,000 in African American men and 26 per 100,000 men of European ancestry – is wider than that observed in any other major cancer. By combining transdisciplinary, translational research about the effects of biological, behavioral, social, environmental, and health care factors on prostate cancer outcomes, the new center’s investigators aim to develop and disseminate interventions that can be used to shrink those striking disparities.
The project will have three prongs. First, the Penn Medicine team will investigate the role of obesity in prostate cancer development and progression of the disease. Though obesity is a potentially modifiable risk factor, it’s not yet clear how racial composition of a neighborhood, socioeconomic status, living conditions and stress levels relate to obesity’s role in disease outcomes. They will also focus on biomarkers and neighborhood data to develop a model to help predict prostate cancer outcomes, and investigate differences in treatment experienced by black and white men as impacted by various barriers to care in an urban environment.
“Prostate cancer is a serious public health issue, particularly for African American men” says the project’s principal investigator, Timothy Rebbeck, PhD, a professor of Epidemiology who directs the Center for Genetics and Complex Traits in the Perelman School of Medicine and serves as associate director for Population Science in the Abramson Cancer Center. “Our new center will address the causes of this health disparity. We will be able to use the information from this project to improve the outcomes of African American men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer.”