NEWARK—A UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School associate professor of medicine has received two highly competitive state and federal grants that will significantly enhance the clinical trials program at the New Jersey Medical School/University Hospital Cancer Center (Cancer Center) and place it among a select group of facilities nationwide that devote much of their efforts to the treatment of minority cancer patients.
The two grants to Robert Wieder, MD, PhD, a physician and scientist in oncology and director of the Cancer Center’s Clinical Research Office, total more than $2.3 million. They are funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research (NJCCR).
The NCI grant provides $1.85 million in funding to the Cancer Center’s Clinical Research Office and establishes it as an NCI-designated Minority-Based Community Clinical Oncology Program (MB-CCOP), making it one of 14 in the nation and the only such program in New Jersey. This coveted designation provides support to physicians, such as Wieder, who are involved in the care of minority cancer patients. It emphasizes treatment, cancer prevention and control clinical trials research.
The grant by the NJCCR, in collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, provides $476,000 in support to the Cancer Center’s Clinical Research Office and is the only clinical research grant funded by the NJCCR geared toward combating health disparities. The goal of the grant is to support the Cancer Center’s efforts to provide minority and medically underserved patients with access to cancer clinical trials.
According to Wieder, nearly 60 percent of the Clinical Research Office’s patient base consists of minorities who live in Newark and the surrounding areas. Historically, minorities have had low rates of participation in clinical trials. The grants, he hopes, will help change that.
“Clinical trials save lives. All current cancer treatments are derived from patients who participate in clinical trials. It is especially critical that we have an ethnically balanced representation on clinical trials because the effect of treatments may vary among different populations,” Wieder said. “Disparities in cancer care can only be overcome if minorities have access to the same state-of-the-art clinical trials as the rest of the population,” he added.
“Studies show that the poor, medically underserved and ethnic minorities face more barriers to enrollment in cancer clinical trials,” said Heather Howard, Commissioner of Health & Senior Services. “We are especially pleased during Minority and Multicultural Health Month to fund the Cancer Center at New Jersey Medical School/University Hospital as they seek innovative ways to overcome these barriers and reduce disparities.”
The MB-CCOP’s purpose is to, among other things:
- provide support for expanding clinical research in minority community settings;
- bring the advantages of state-of-the-art treatment and cancer prevention and control research to minorities in their own communities; and
- increase the involvement of primary health care providers and other specialists in cancer prevention and control studies.
“The grant from the New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research as well as financial support from other agencies like Susan G. Komen for the Cure of Northern New Jersey set the stage for us to become an MB-CCOP and allow us to bring the benefit of cancer research and treatment to underserved minority populations,” Wieder noted.
“The aim here is to ensure that there is a clinical trial for everyone who comes to the Cancer Center, regardless of the type of cancer from which they suffer and the stage to which the cancer has advanced.”
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