Redes En Acción national Latino cancer research network gets $5.6 million

After a decade of success in reducing Latino cancer through research, training and education, San Antonio-based Redes En Acción: The National Hispanic/Latino Cancer Research Network has received a new $5.6 million grant from the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities to bolster and expand its cancer-fighting efforts.

Launched in 2000, Redes En Acción is a program of the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Redes has regional sites in Miami, New York, San Diego and San Francisco, along with its online network of more than 1,800 researchers and advocates from across the U.S. who are united in fighting Latino cancer.

In 10 years, Redes has successfully tested novel interventions to improve access to cancer care and screening, trained the next generation of Latino cancer researchers and raised public and scientist awareness of Latino cancer challenges and solutions.

Grant will fund operations and two new studies
The new grant will bolster Redes’ efforts through 2015 and pave the way for two new studies: a large-scale study to test novel strategies in improving Latino cancer survivors’ quality of life and a pilot study of an Internet-based tobacco cessation service.

“We’re extremely excited that the NCI continues to support Redes and acknowledges the tremendous strides we’ve made and are making to reduce the Latino cancer burden,” said Amelie G. Ramirez, Dr.P.H., Redes principal investigator and director of the IHPR at the UT Health Science Center. “We believe our efforts will continue to help Latinos, who suffer higher incidences of some cancers and lower survival rates for most cancers, which reflects less access to timely, quality health care.”

Surviving cancer as a Latino
The focal point of Redes’ new grant is the study on Latino cancer survivorship.

Given limited knowledge of how the cancer experience impacts Latino survivors, Redes researchers will test the effectiveness of using patient navigators in Texas’ Lower Rio Grande Valley and South Florida to identify survivors and link them to the Lance Armstrong Foundation’s LIVESTRONG SurvivorCare program, which offers free, bilingual support for any person affected by cancer to help with coping, finances, support and more.

The study hypothesizes that participants who experience this patient-navigation intervention, versus usual care, will show a significantly improved quality of life and greater compliance in following prescribed treatment.

“We expect to vastly improve the availability of needed resources and thus the quality of life among breast, colorectal and prostate Latino cancer survivors,” Dr. Ramirez said.

Research, training and education
Redes will use its new grant to bolster its cancer-reducing efforts in these areas:

  • Redes research focuses on policy and organizational change and innovative interventions to reduce disparities. Redes investigators do groundbreaking Latino cancer research in genetics, network analysis, obesity, tobacco cessation, cancer screening, cancer clinical trials, cancer survivorship and patient navigation. In all, Redes researchers have more than $200 million in peer-reviewed Latino cancer and chronic disease grants.
  • Redes training activities have instructed or mentored more than 225 emerging cancer researchers from undergraduates to doctoral students to junior faculty, building a national pipeline of Latino researchers and physicians. Redes also launched the careers of 18 NCI pilot investigators who leveraged $900,000 in NCI cancer research funding into $100 million in cancer and chronic disease research.
  • Redes education seeks to improve access to cancer screening, treatment and beneficial cancer interventions. Redes has reached communities and researchers nationally through more than 2,000 cancer education events; bilingual education materials, such as Buena Vida cancer health magazines and the Nuestras Historias book for Latino cancer survivors; a network website; monthly E-Alerts; a quarterly e-newsletter; A Latino Cancer Experts Directory; and award-winning bilingual public service announcements promoting cancer screening and clinical trial participation among Latinos.

Marking a decade of success
Redes recently celebrated its achievements and marked its 10th anniversary during a national meeting March 3-5, 2010 in San Antonio.

Dr. Ramirez said Redes will continue making a difference in the next five years.

“We believe our ongoing research, training, and education activities have helped decrease Latino cancer over the years, and our new grant gives us additional opportunities to raise the level of Latino health even more,” said Dr. Ramirez, who also is associate director of health disparities at the Cancer Therapy & Research Center, the NCI-designated Cancer Center at the UT Health Science Center. “We’re excited about continuing to find nuevas fronteras (new frontiers) in Latino health.”