About Upstream Research Center

There are currently 1.4 million people in Northern California living in persistent poverty census tracts, defined by the National Cancer Institute as having 20% or more residents living in poverty in 1990, 2000, and 2010. This environment can contribute to the development of cancer and impose barriers to prevention and control at the health system, community, and population level. Improving cancer outcomes in these areas requires multisector solutions targeting fundamental causes and social determinants of health, with research and policy development processes that are co-created with the impacted communities. The Upstream Research Center was formed to address these challenges and reduce the cancer burden in persistent poverty areas in Northern California. Uniting diverse community partners and scientists from Stanford University, the University of California, Davis, and the University of California, San Francisco, the Center is evaluating and scaling innovative income supplementation programs and policies that can address these fundamental causes. Results from this groundbreaking work will lay the foundation for transformative approaches to address cancer inequalities in Northern California and beyond. 

Upstream Aims

  • Build a collaborative community of residents in persistent poverty areas, policymakers, trainees, cancer and social science researchers, and data scientists that co-create programs to address the fundamental impacts of living in a persistent poverty area.

  • Evaluate the impact of income-based interventions in demographically diverse persistent poverty areas in Northern CA.

  • Develop a mathematical model, with community input, that can assist in predicting the long-term impacts of income-focused interventions on colorectal cancer incidence, providing community members, policymakers, and researchers with guidance on how best to eliminate the increased burden of cancer in persistent poverty areas.

  • Develop and implement a career enhancement program that will facilitate the training and career development of a diverse cadre of interdisciplinary early-career scholars who are committed to advancing cancer health equity through research and practice in persistent poverty areas.

  • Implement innovative and collaborative cancer prevention and control programs identified through the Upstream Research Center research projects and our community partners to develop long-term sustainable strategies in our Northern CA Catchment Areas and across the Persistent Poverty Centers Network. 

Research Projects

Our work advances multiple conceptual and methodological innovations through two main research projects. 


Upstream Research Center has identified four core areas in which it will address cancer inequalities.