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VSU and VCU receive grant for research on cancer disparities

Researchers will use the data they collect to create initiatives that focus on early intervention and emphasizes the importance of routine screenings.

RICHMOND, Va. — Author's note: The video above is on file from September 30, 2021.

Virginia State University and the Virginia Commonwealth University's Massey Cancer Center are joining forces to look into how cancer rates in minority communities can be reduced, and provide research opportunities for students at these colleges.

The partnership comes in light of a $1.7 million grant from the National Cancer Institute that will be distributed through the next four years. 

“VCU and VCU Health strive toward a future where access to excellent health care is available to everyone,” said Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU and VCU Health System. 

“This award for VCU Massey Cancer Center demonstrates yet one more substantive way in which we are being recognized as a leader in building a more equitable society for all human beings," he wrote.

The first project that will be funded through the grant will look into why Black Americans are genetically likelier to develop liver or gastrointestinal cancers. 

A second project will focus on community outreach and education in the city of Petersburg, Virginia, which is predominantly Black and where cancer is the leading cause of premature death.

In Petersburg, the average life expectancy is 10 years less than the national average, according to a release from VSU. 

Researchers will use the data they collect to create initiatives that focus on early intervention and emphasize the importance of routine screenings. 

“As an HBCU, Virginia State University has always addressed the disparities among Black people in our country,” said Dr. Makola M. Abdullah, President of Virginia State University. “Through our newly established Public Health Institute and collaborations like this one with Massey, we are proud to also address disparities in an entirely new way. We are excited to share our knowledge of and access to the Black community, while increasing our capacity to participate in health disparity research on our campus.”