From left, Drs. Ernest Hawk, Ed Trapido, Amelie Ramirez and Roland Garcia
August 2-4, 2006.
Collaborating to address Latino cancer issues was the theme of the 6th Annual Redes En Acción National Steering Committee Meeting, which drew more than 75 participants representing federal, academic and community organizations, institutions and foundations across the country.
Through a variety of individual and panel presentations, participants gained insight from a wide range of partnering perspectives -- from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to community and advocacy organizations to foundations and other nonprofit groups.
In outlining NCI cancer center efforts to impact health disparities of minority and underserved populations, keynote speaker Ernest T. Hawk, MD, MPH, noted that "progress has been made...but there's a lot of work to be done." Dr. Hawk, Director of the NCI Office of Centers, Training and Resources, told the Redes participants, "We are very enthusiastic about working with your group, as well as others, to do our job more effectively. We have a lot to learn, and I look forward to working with you in the future."
He provided an overview of current cancer center disparity activities, particularly in research and training, and noted an expansion of focus in clinical trial minority participation to include both therapeutic intervention and nontherapeutic prevention trials. In addition, he highlighted NCI training activities, particularly the Minority Institution Cancer Partnership Program.
"The objectives of the program speak directly to the issue of cancer health disparities and how cancer centers can more effectively do their jobs by building partnerships with institutions focused on that issue specifically," he said.
In addition to Dr. Hawk, National Steering Committee members and other meeting participants heard Eddie Reed, MD, Director of CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, discuss CDC efforts to improve the cancer health of Latinos and other minority populations and ways that organizations such as Redes En Acción can work with the agency.
The meeting's luncheon program provided highlights of Congressional activities focusing on Hispanic health presented by Elena Rios, MD, MSPH, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Medical Association. The luncheon also included an audio-visual tribute to singer / songwriter Soraya, an active advocate for Latina women, who died of breast cancer earlier this year.
The meeting's full slate of panels included discussions focusing on opportunities for Latino cancer disparity collaboration with community organizations, national groups, nonprofits, NCI components and cancer centers. The steering committee also received overviews of recent pilot projects funded by Redes En Acción through the NCI and examples of success stories -- investigators who have used previous pilot projects as the basis to attain funding for more expansive Latino cancer studies.
What Is Redes En Acción? Redes En Acción is a major NCI-supported initiative to combat cancer among Latinos through a nationwide network of community-based organizations, research institutions, government health agencies and the public. Core activities include promoting cancer training and research opportunities for Latino students and researchers, generating research projects on key Latino cancer issues, and supporting cancer awareness activities within the Latino community.
The initiative is coordinated by the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and San Antonio, with regional network centers in San Antonio, New York, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco and San Diego.