Scientists have known for some time that a person’s ethnicity is inherently linked to their health. Research has shown that some racial and ethnic sub-groups are more prone to certain diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. In Chicago, these rates of disparity are higher than other major cities. Community outreach and engagement are essential to addressing these disparities.
Community-centered programs are essential to address health disparities. The OCECD, under the direction of Karen Kim, MD, has formed strategic alliances with UChicago units and other healthcare organizations, as well as community, ethnic, and faith-based groups to create innovative programs that will increase access to care, reduce risk factors for cancer, increase participation in cancer research, and improve the quality of life for cancer patients and survivors.
Population research helps scientists understand how lifestyle, environmental, biological and other factors impact cancer risk within a specific ethnic or racial sub-group of people. Led by Habibul Ahsan, MBBS, MMedSc, the COMPASS study is recruiting participants from 20 Chicago neighborhoods in order to elucidate the causes of disease and to understand health disparities among Chicago’s diverse population. This knowledge could lead to new and better treatment options.
In 2015, the University of Chicago Medicine’s new Center for Asian Health Equity received a $3.5 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to increase colorectal cancer screenings in Chicago’s Cook County. The grant led to the formation of Cook County CARES (Colorectal Cancer Alliance to Reinforce and Enhance Screening), a partnership between the university and local community health organizations.