Robert A. Winn, MD, director of the University of Illinois Cancer Center, delivered the keynote speech at the 48th Association of American Indian Physicians (AAIP) Annual Conference, held last week in Chicago. The UI Cancer Center was a sponsor of the event.
“From my cancer center, three to four miles away is the Loop,” Winn told those in attendance. “The life expectancy there is 85. Literally, to the west of it, there’s an area called West Garfield Park, which is exactly three to four miles away from my cancer center. And the life expectancy there is 68. It is just inherently wrong, that in 2019, that this is the situation.”
The AAIP was founded in 1971 as an educational, scientific, and charitable non-profit corporation. A major goal of AAIP is to motivate American Indian and Alaskan Native students to remain in the academic pipeline and to pursue a career in the health professions and/or biomedical research, thereby increasing the number of American Indian and Alaskan Native medical professionals in the workforce.
This was the first time the AAIP annual conference was held in Chicago. Winn has had a long-standing relationship with the Native American community, going back to his days as a faculty member at the University of Colorado in Boulder, having worked closely with the Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes, among others.