SCI and PHS Award Equity Impact Research Grants to Address Health Disparities

April 10, 2023 - In recent years, the incidence and mortality rates for most types of cancer in California have declined; however, disparities persist for historically marginalized communities. The Stanford Cancer Institute (SCI) Population Sciences Program, the Stanford Center for Population Health Sciences (PHS) and the Stanford Cancer Institute Office of Cancer Health Equity are pleased to announce the award of two research grants designed to improve health equity through community-engaged research.

“Advancing health equity starts in our local communities,” said Alyce Adams, Stanford Medicine Innovation Professor. “We launched the Equity Impact Research Grants to facilitate bi-directional collaboration between researchers and local community members and ultimately translate research findings to close disparities."

PHS and SCI partnered with the San Joaquin Valley Public Health Consortium to solicit proposals to address health challenges experienced in the San Joaquin Valley and surrounding areas. The $100,000 Grand Challenge Award was created to better understand the impact of climate change on cancer disparities in the San Joaquin Valley. The $40,000 Equity Impact Research Award aims to improve cancer equity among underserved populations in California.

Manali Patel, MD, professor of medicine and oncology, was selected for the Grand Challenge Award. Dr. Patel will take a community-engaged approach to address the burden of wildfire smoke exposure and lung cancer risk disparities among fire personnel and farmworkers. Along with Gabrielle Wong-Parodi, PhD, professor of earth system science and Mathew Kiang, PhD, professor of epidemiology and population health, Dr. Patel will establish a community advisory board, determine key barriers and facilitators to wildfire smoke risk reduction and identify equitable solutions.

“Climate change has increased the frequency and duration of wildfires in the region,” said Dinah Trevil, Senior Program Director, SCI Office of Cancer Health Equity. “We established this track of grant funding to help our partners understand the impact wildfires have on vulnerable populations like agricultural workers, fire personnel and others with high incidence of wildfire smoke exposure. We look forward to sharing Dr. Patel’s results.”  

"Community engagement is critical to improving health equity.

Aaron Dawes, MD, professor of surgery, was awarded the Seed Grant for his project focused on closing disparities in access and quality of cancer care for Hispanic/Latino Californians with rectal cancer. Dr. Dawes, along with Arden Morris, MD, professor of surgery, and Sandra Zaky, MD, professor of radiation oncology, will identify barriers and facilitators to receiving recommended cancer care among rural and urban Hispanic/Latino Californians with rectal cancer.

“Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Hispanic/Latino Americans and a persistent example of racial disparities in cancer care. Furthermore, cancer incidence and mortality disproportionately affect rural populations. Dr. Dawes’ work has potential to offer solutions for care delivery, patient experience and health equity,” said Lesley Sept, Executive Director of Population Health Sciences, Stanford Center of Population Health Sciences.

The Equity Impact Research Grants are a collaborative effort between the Stanford Cancer Institute and Stanford Center for Population Health Sciences to inform cancer-related policy, practice and/or paradigms.