Phoenix, Arizona, September 25, 2005 - The National Cancer Institute recently announced the award of $18 million to reduce cancer health disparities through it's Community Networks to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities through Education, Research and Training Program. The Southwest American Indian Collaborative Network (SAICN) received one of the 18-22 grants awarded nationwide. This network, which aims to reduce cancer health disparities among American Indians, is a collaborative effort lead by a core group of professionals from the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc (ITCA), the Arizona Cancer Center (AZCC), the Phoenix Indian Medical Center (PIMC), the University of California at Los Angeles, the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGEN), and the Western Regional Community Clinical Oncology Program (WRCCOP).

The collaboration was made possible, in part, through the continuation of the Special Populations Network (SPN) grant "An Innovative RFA for Minority Health Research and Minority Advancement," also known as the American Indian Oncology Program. Because of the work of all partners involved during the past four years of SPN, a strong framework for collaborative partnership was established. "This grant is a testament to what can be achieved when programs work together for a common purpose," said Dr. Charlton Wilson of the Phoenix Indian Medical Center.

"The fundamental aim of the Southwest American Indian Collaborative Network (SAICN)," according to Dr. Kathryn Coe, the Principal Investigator of the grant, "is to eliminate cancer health disparities among American Indians in Arizona and the Southwest by closing the gap between the health needs of the community and the promise of cancer prevention and cure made possible through a responsive health delivery and research system." This aim will be achieved through support of participatory education, training, and research programs driven by American Indian community needs. Cancer is the second leading cause of death among American Indians. The initial focus includes those cancers affecting American Indians in the Southwest: breast, cervical, skin, lung, and colon.

"Participation in SAICN increases our effectiveness as a whole to address cancer health disparity and expand resources. The hope is to increase our ability to provide pertinent health programs through our relationship with ITCA and a commitment by all partners to include both urban and rural American Indians involvement at a fundamental level," said Dr. David King, Medical Director of Western Regional CCOP.

TGen is one of the new partners of this broadened network, supplementing the research and training component, to ensure that advances in molecular medicine and genomics are also integrated into cancer treatment and prevention. "TGen is honored and excited to be a part of this important Network," said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, President and Scientific Director of TGen. "We look forward to working with the network partners to ensure that the benefits of TGen's research, specifically cancer therapeutics and diagnostics, are applicable and accessible to American Indian cancer patients." Arizona, according to Census 2000 summary data, retains its standing as the state with the largest American Indian population residing on Indian lands. Phoenix has one of the highest proportions of American Indians among the top ten cities in the nation and Arizona is home to twenty-one federally recognized tribes. Because of the rural nature of many tribal communities, services commonly available to cancer patients in urban areas are not available to American Indians in their community settings. "This is a great opportunity for American Indians to access the expertise and resources of partner agencies to develop approaches to comprehensive cancer prevention and treatment" said Mr. John R. Lewis, Executive Director of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc.


For additional information, contact:

John R. Lewis, Executive Director
Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc.
2214 North Central Avenue, Suite #100
Phoenix, Arizona 85004.
Tel: 602.258.4822
Fax: 602.258.4825
Email: [email protected]

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