Highlighting some of the achievements and activities of University of Illinois Cancer Center members, trainees and staff in this Cancer Center Happenings feature.

‘Spill the Tea’ on Breast Cancer

Some women completed or scheduled mammograms after a “Spill the Tea on Breast Cancer” event at Chicago’s Jackson Park Hospital sponsored by the Cancer Center, Equal Hope and the American Cancer Society. About a dozen women attended the December 11 event, where they learned about breast cancer-related resources from Cancer Center community partners, including Peer Plus, Advocates for Community Wellness, and Equal Hope, who was there to enroll uninsured women into financial assistance programs. Resolute Consulting Group’s Melvin Thompson helped bring awareness to the event to ensure women in the South Shore neighborhood received education and navigation to breast care. The women also got a tour of the 3-D mammogram machine used at Jackson Park Hospital.

Molina Presents on Clinical Trial Diversity, Cancer Health Equity

Cancer Center Associate Director for Community Outreach and Engagement Yamile Molina, PhD, (pictured far right) participated on a panel focused on the importance of diversity in clinical trials at the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Foundation Policy Summit held December 8-9 in Chicago. (Pictured left to right:Grant Cale, Bristol Meyer Squibb; Helen Fitzpatrick, Bristol Meyer Squibb; Illinois State Representative Camille Lily; and LaToya Hinton-Howery, MPH, CEO and Research Director of Next Innovative Clinical Research; and Molina)

Additionally in December, Molina presented on her work at the Cancer Control and Survivorship Program seminar at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. Their presentation entitled, “Network Methods for Scaling Up Cancer Health Equity,” reflects that cancer health equity is best and most sustainably achieved through partnership and knowledge exchange.

The Cancer Center had a research poster featured at the Catchment Area Data Conference in Richmond, Virginia, attended by Senior Research Scientist Margaret Wright Geise, PhD, and CCSG Administration Director Farah Mirza, MBA, in December. Wright is lead author of the poster entitled “Data Drives Action in Communities: An Example from the West Side of Chicago.” Co-authors on the poster are Dedra Ries MPH, Director of the Cancer Center’s Office of Community Engagement and Health Equity (CEHE); Research Scientist Leslie Carnahan PhD; Oncology Bioinformatics Director Sandeep Kataria MBA; Research Specialist Ekas Abrol MS; Associate Director for Administration Ahlam Al-Kodmany PhD; Associate Director for Community Outreach and Engagement Yamile Molina PhD; and two authors from Metopio, Inc. – a company that provides population data and dashboards for use by Cancer Center members and community partners.

San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium

The work of University of Illinois Cancer Center members, leaders, trainees, staff and community partners was featured during the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) in December. Here are some photos.

Pictured: Blessing Nwachukwu, PhD student in the Biomedical and Health Information Sciences program at UIC (left) and mentored by Cancer Center member Elizabeth Papautsky, PhD, (right).

Pictured left to right: UIC Hematology and Oncology Fellow Neha Hippalgaonkar, MD, and Cancer Center Associate Director for Clinical Research Oana Danciu, MD.

Pictured: Danciu

Advocates for Community Wellness Gala Celebration

The Cancer Center had a strong presence at a 20th Anniversary Gala Celebration for Advocates for Community Wellness, a dedicated partner of the Cancer Center’s Office of Community Engagement and Health Equity (CEHE). The gala, hosted earlier in December in the Chicago suburb of Alsip, was attended by many CEHE community partners, including Equal Hope which, like Advocates for Community Wellness, is an inaugural recipient of the Cancer Center’s Hope Leaders Fellowships. The program pairs cancer biology researchers at the Cancer Center with community organizations to create a bidirectional relationship that centers community cancer priorities in cancer research. At the event, another CEHE partner, Jackson Park Hospital radiologist Arlene Richardson, MD, who runs the breast cancer screening program, was given the Community Health Vanguard Award. The Cancer Center, through CEHE, partners with Jackson Park Hospital to navigate patients to breast cancer screening and care.

Pictured left to right: Joseph Dufraine, PhD, Cancer Center Research Scientist; Dale Cain, Founder and Executive Director of Advocates for Community Wellness; Dedra Ries, MPH, Cancer Center Director for Community Engagement and Health Equity; Regina Hopkins, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, Director of Health Education and Program Manager at Advocates for Community Wellness: and Yamile Molina, PhD, Cancer Center Associate Director for Community Outreach and Engagement.

Pictured left to right: Elena Navas-Nacher, PhD, MS; Tasha Carlisle, Cancer Center Research Specialist; Monet Jones, MPH, MSW, Cancer Center Research Specialist; Ries; Molina; Marta Soto, cancer survivor, and her daughter.

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

A group of Cancer Center staff and Illinois Cancer Health Equity Research (I-CHER) Center members/affiliates volunteered at the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer (MSABC) Chicago walk. The October event raised more than $650,000. The Cancer Center group (pictured front to back: Paola Torres, MPH, Senior Research Specialist; Research Associate Carolina Bujunda; Research Associate AngelinaIzguerra; and Kathleen Jara, RN, clinical nurse in Cancer Prevention and Survivorship) volunteered at the Survivorship Tent and with the Cheer Squad.

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