Mark Tyler knew that cancer treatments and research were constantly advancing. What he didn’t know was how much room for growth there was – specifically in aspects like building community and equality-based approaches.
This summer, Tyler, a junior at Governors State University, took part in Governors State University – UI Cancer Center Disparity Education (GUIDE) Project as an intern. The project prepares college students and junior faculty for careers in cancer disparities research by equipping them with the skills and abilities to respond to the rapidly-changing landscape of health inequities on Chicago’s south side and growing south suburban and rural communities.
“GUIDE has inspired me to not only want to acquire my doctorate of physical therapy but to also obtain a master’s degree in nutrition,” Tyler said. “My goal is to launch a project to educate my local community on proper health and nutrition while also raising funds to create a scholarship, assisting Governors State physical therapy students in paying for licensure exams needed to enter the field. I am also interested in expanding my knowledge of cancer research to potentially enter the field of oncology rehabilitation.”
During his summer internship, Tyler focused on looking into social determinants, stress, physical factors – such as different covariates and also diets – and how they associate with oral, head and neck cancer among African American men. By utilizing a test to measure patient data – called oral health impact profile – Tyler was able to measure patient data.
“There is a disparity in African American men, where they experience oral, head and neck cancer more than Caucasian men in this community,” he said. “I feel that having this experience is definitely helping me to look outside the box and helping me look more into my community. I grew up on the South Side of Chicago and it’s very diverse – Latinos and African Americans. Researching more individuals will allow me to figure out what’s going on and I will be able to make an impact in that area.”
Programs with P20 grants like the GUIDE Project supports the development of interdisciplinary programs that offer potential solutions to problems of special significance to the mission of the National Institutes of Health. These exploratory studies may lead to specialized or comprehensive centers. They are traditionally granted to cancer centers that have been designated as such by the National Cancer Institute, but the UI Cancer Center was selected due to its status as a minority serving institution. The UI Cancer Center is the first non-designated cancer center to receive a P20 grant. Robert Winn, MD, director of the UI Cancer Center, served as a principal investigator on the grant.
To learn more about our other educational programs and find out information on applying, please visit.