Georgetown Opens Office of Minority Health & Health Disparities Research in SE Washington

Posted in News Release

WASHINGTON – With a focus on conducting community-based research to address vast disparities in cancer outcomes in the nation’s capital, Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, a part of Georgetown University Medical Center, today announces the opening of the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities Research in southeast Washington, D.C.

The community site, located at 1000 New Jersey Ave, SE, demonstrates Georgetown’s commitment to engaging underserved and ethnic minority populations in the District of Columbia in research focused on reducing cancer disparities.

The Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities Research is led by internationally renowned cancer epidemiologist, Lucile Adams-Campbell, Ph.D., associate director for Minority Health and Health Disparities Research at Georgetown Lombardi.

“Georgetown Lombardi is the only comprehensive cancer center designated by the National Cancer Institute in the District,” explains Adams-Campbell, who is also associate dean for community health and outreach for Georgetown University Medical Center. “With this designation comes the responsibility to promote community-based research that addresses the vast gaps in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment among minority and underserved populations.”

The District of Columbia has one of the highest cancer mortality rates in the nation, ranking highest for prostate cancer, second highest for breast cancer, third highest for cervical cancer, and seventh highest in the nation for all cancers combined, according to the DC Cancer Consortium. Furthermore, the African American population, the largest minority population within the District of Columbia, is disproportionately affected by cancer. There are myriad reasons for this disproportionate impact, including a susceptibility to more aggressive forms of cancer, environmental factors, and barriers to health education, insurance, and treatment.

The Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities Research is a community-based anchor for the cancer-related research underway as part of a $6.1 million grant awarded in 2012 to Georgetown University Medical Center to establish a new Center for Excellence for Health Disparities in Our Nation’s Capital, for which Adams-Campbell is a one of three lead researchers.

The onsite office includes faculty with expertise in cancer epidemiology, health communications, exercise physiology, and nutrition as well as a nurse practitioner, community health educator students-in-training and an administrative staff. All will complement Georgetown Lombardi researchers whose primary focus is on developing community-based interventions and studying barriers to proper diagnosis and follow-up care. The office features an exercise physiology lab, “Exergaming” rooms, and DEXA equipment for measuring body fat composition and bone density.

“We recognized that to achieve meaningful gains toward reducing health disparities, our research teams needed to be in the community to work directly with those affected,” says Howard J. Federoff, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for health sciences at Georgetown University Medical Center. “Under Dr. Adams-Campbell’s leadership, I’m confident that we can expedite research directly impacting health disparities — particularly those disproportionately affecting minority and underserved populations in the District.”

Much of Adams-Campbell’s own research focuses on community-based interventions to improve diet and exercise among underserved populations. In addition to disproportionately high cancer mortality rates, the District has higher-than-average rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, all of which may be affected by diet and exercise.

The Center of Excellence grant supports research at the office such as a project currently underway with community participants that involves comparing the impact of a supervised facility-based and a home-based exercise intervention on obesity, metabolic syndrome and known breast cancer biomarkers in postmenopausal African-American women.

“With breast cancer, we know that a woman’s weight gain in her postmenopausal years is like adding fuel to the fire,” Adams-Campbell says. “Now that we know that, we need to act on that information.”

The study will assess the impact of exercise interventions on biomarkers related to obesity, insulin-related pathways, inflammation, and hormones.

“The work that Georgetown Lombardi and its team of researchers are engaged in is part of our University-wide initiative to reduce health disparities,” says Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia, Ph.D., referring to the Georgetown University Initiative to Reduce Health Disparities announced in the spring.

The Initiative fosters interdisciplinary collaboration across the University’s campuses among a diverse group of scholars to conduct research, education and outreach efforts that address the global and local inequities in health and health care.

The University-wide initiative seeks to identify, reduce, and ultimately eliminate disparities in health and health care by conducting broad-based research, education and community engagement.

“Georgetown Lombardi’s new office is an important pillar of the Initiative, and it enhances our ability to have a deeper impact in the communities we serve, both here in DC and globally,” DeGioia says.

“This office was born out of our commitment to reducing health disparities in the community, and the recognition that we can’t expect the people who are most affected to always come find us on campus. This office enables us to better engage the greater D.C. community, and to address real challenges to help improve the health of our neighbors,” says Louis M. Weiner, M.D., director of Georgetown Lombardi.

The Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities Research is ideally situated just a few steps from the Navy Yard metro stop, to facilitate easy access by community members. It is also only about a mile from Capital Breast Care Center (CBCC), a breast screening initiative of Georgetown Lombardi located at 650 Avenue SE, and an important component of its health disparities research program.

The location and proximity to CBCC provides direct access to the individuals most negatively impacted by health disparities and facilitates the type of culturally sensitive, community-based research that is sorely needed to bridge the health care gap in this city.

About Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center
Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of Georgetown University Medical Center and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, seeks to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cancer through innovative basic and clinical research, patient care, community education and outreach, and the training of cancer specialists of the future. Georgetown Lombardi is one of only 41 comprehensive cancer centers in the nation, as designated by the National Cancer Institute, and the only one in the Washington, DC, area. For more information, go to http://lombardi.georgetown.edu.

About Georgetown University Medical Center
Georgetown University Medical Center is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through MedStar Health). GUMC’s mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis — or “care of the whole person.” The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing & Health Studies, both nationally ranked; Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute; and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization (BGRO), which accounts for the majority of externally funded research at GUMC including a Clinical Translation and Science Award from the National Institutes of Health. In fiscal year 2010-11, GUMC accounted for 85 percent of the university’s sponsored research funding.