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NCI Awards $25 Million for Patient Navigator Research Program for Minority and Underserved Cancer Patients


The National Cancer Institute (NCI) today announced a total of $25 million in grants to eight research institutions to develop an innovative Patient Navigator Research Program (PNRP). Navigators help patients and their families manage cancer diagnoses and overcome common barriers to obtaining timely and appropriate cancer care and treatment. The five-year grants will be administered by NCI’s Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD).

“Studying various forms of patient navigation is extremely important,” said Mark Clanton, M.D., NCI deputy director for cancer care delivery systems. “This area of research can help us take a huge step toward narrowing cancer health disparities and ensuring that knowledge, advancements, and technology are shared with patients in all communities.”

Patient navigators help coordinate services among medical personnel, schedule appointments with caregivers, arrange translation or interpretation services and various forms of financial support, facilitate transportation to and from medical visits, and arrange childcare services during diagnosis and treatment appointments. Navigators from primary care or community health settings provide support and guidance, linking patients to existing health care services.

The PNRP will test and evaluate interventions designed to improve access to timely and appropriate cancer care and treatment following a cancer diagnosis. The new program will focus on four cancers for which screening tests are available: breast, cervical, prostate and colorectal.

These grants will focus on cancer patients from racial/ethnic minority groups, patients with low socioeconomic status, and patients from medically underserved areas. There will be significant community input through Community Advisory Panels (CAP). Composed of community leaders, community-based participatory researchers, and clinicians, CAPS will help plan partnerships to ensure support from diverse underserved communities.

The following eight institutions were awarded PNRP grants:

Boston University Medical Center, Boston, Mass.
Principle Investigator: Karen M. Freund, M.D.
The Patient Navigation in the SafetyNet: CONNECTeDDTM Project will partner with community health centers to provide either breast or cervical cancer navigation services to women in socially and economically challenged urban neighborhoods.

Denver Health and Hospital Authority, Denver, Colo.
Principle Investigator: Peter C. Raich, M.D.
The Improving Patient Outcomes through System Navigation Project will work with community partners in the Rocky Mountain region, AMC Cancer Research Center, and the University of Colorado Comprehensive Cancer Center to provide breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer navigation services for minority and underserved patients, many of whom do not have health insurance.

George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
Principle Investigator: Steven Patierno, Ph.D.
The D.C. City-wide Patient Navigation Research Project will develop a consortium comprised of major medical institutions, community partners, and the local health department to create a city-wide initiative to test and evaluate breast cancer navigation services among African American and Hispanic/Latina women.

H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, Tampa, Fla.
Principle Investigator: Richard G. Roetzheim, M.D.
The Moffitt Cancer Center Patient Navigator Project will collaborate with the Health Choice Network and its member community health centers, and the American Cancer Society to conduct culturally appropriate patient navigation focused on breast and colorectal cancers in culturally diverse populations.

Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, Portland, Ore.
Principle Investigator: Joshua D. Jones, M.D.
The Northwest Tribal Cancer Navigator Project, in conjunction with tribal health centers, will expand an existing navigation project in five diverse tribal communities and provide breast, cervical, prostate and colorectal cancer navigation services.

Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.
Principle Investigator: Charles L. Bennett, M.D.
The Chicago Cancer Navigation Project will develop and conduct a patient navigation intervention to provide follow-up care to low-income patients with positive cancer screening tests of the prostate, colorectum, breast or cervix, in collaboration with the Veterans Affairs and federally qualified health center clinics.

University of Rochester, Rochester, N.Y.
Principle Investigator: Kevin Fiscella, M.D.
The Randomized Controlled Trial of Primary Care-Based Patient Navigation-Activation Project, focusing on breast and colorectal cancers, will recruit patients from large, inner-city practices, serving primarily minority and low-income populations, to assess whether underserved populations benefit from navigation services.

University of Texas Health Sciences Center, San Antonio, Texas
Principle Investigator: Donald J. Dudley, M.D.
The Texas Health Science Center’s Patient Navigation Research Project, focusing on breast and cervical cancers, will develop and conduct a navigator program primarily for Hispanic/Latina and African American women, in collaboration with district health and university health clinics, community-based agencies, and the university hospital.
“In order to meet our challenge goal to eliminate suffering and death due to cancer, we must ensure that any patient with a suspicious finding is provided timely diagnosis and that patients who are diagnosed with cancer experience no delay in receiving high-quality cancer care, regardless of their race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status or geography,” stated Harold Freeman, M.D., senior advisor to the NCI director on minority and underserved communities. “These projects will help improve access to quality, standard cancer care and could contribute to substantial progress in reducing cancer health disparities.”

In addition to the newly announced grants, NCI continues to fund patient navigator pilot projects that reach American Indian, Hispanic/Latino, African American and rural underserved populations.

For additional information about the Patient Navigator Research Program and grantees, go to:

For more information about cancer, visit the NCI Web site at, or call NCI’s Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4 CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation’s Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit


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