UW News

October 11, 2019

New UW center receives NIH grant to improve the fight against cancer

UW News

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Getting cancer treatments to patients is not always done effectively. Marcelo Leal/Unsplash

Even successful methods for diagnosing, treating and caring for people who are suffering from cancer are not enough without effective, practical tools and guidance for putting those methods into practice.

To bridge this gap between cancer interventions and their implementation within communities across the country, the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute is funding the creation of six implementation science centers focused on cancer control. The creation of these centers are part of NIH’s Cancer Moonshot initiative to make more therapies available and improve prevention and detection. One of the six centers will be at the UW Department of Health Services, part of the School of Public Health.

“We have proven health interventions that could significantly reduce the burden of cancer for the 15 million people in the United States who will be diagnosed with cancer over the next decade,” said UW professor and project lead Bryan Weiner. “However, these interventions have to be implemented — and implemented well — for patients and community members to benefit from them. Unfortunately, health care delivery systems often underperform in implementation.”

The UW’s center — titled the Optimizing Implementation in Cancer Control Center — was awarded a five-year, $4.78 million grant from the National Cancer Institute. The new center is a strategic collaboration of the UW, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

The center will foster collaboration across the three participating institutions “to develop the knowledge and tools to support optimal implementation of ‘what works’ in preventing, detecting, and treating cancer,” said Weiner, a professor in the UW Department of Global Health.

“One of the biggest opportunities in implementation science and cancer control is increasing and improving delivery of effective interventions in settings that include health care systems working in underserved communities,” said co-principal investigator Peggy Hannon, a professor in the UW Department of Health Services, also in the School of Public Health. “And we are excited to serve those communities through the center’s research projects and other activities.”

The researchers say the center’s shared resources and collaborations will more rapidly, efficiently and economically advance the science of implementing proven cancer interventions than a collection of independent studies conducted by researchers in isolation would permit. The center’s initial studies will focus on optimizing implementation of screening “evidence-based interventions” for cervical, colorectal, breast and ovarian cancer.

“However, the methods for optimizing … implementation that the center will develop, test and refine can be applied broadly across the cancer care continuum, for a wide range of cancers,” the researchers wrote in their project summary.

Cara Lewis, associate investigator at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, is a co-principal investigator in the project. Dr. Laura-Mae Baldwin, professor of family medicine at the UW School of Medicine, will co-lead the implementation science center.

Other institutions receiving “Implementation Science Centers in Cancer Control” grants are the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Oregon Health & Science University, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine and Washington University in St. Louis.

For more information, contact Weiner at bjweiner@uw.edu or 206-221-7882