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NU NEIGHBORS Established to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities

$1.2 million grant from National Cancer Institute supports partnership between Lurie Cancer Center and Northeastern Illinois University

November 2011

A $1.2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute's Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities will support NU NEIGHBORS, a partnership between the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University and Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) to help reduce inequalities related to cancer care.

This collaboration between a minority serving institution (NEIU) and a NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center (Lurie Cancer Center) is one of 12 in the nation, and the first in Illinois funded by the Comprehensive Partnerships to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CPRCHD) program The program will foster community-engaged cancer disparities research, build a platform for improved public health-related curriculum, and further the development of well-trained and experienced cancer researchers and students who choose health and science-related careers.

The only four-year public institution in the Midwest that is federally designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), NEIU was ranked as one of the most ethnically diverse universities in the Midwest in U.S. News & World Report's 2011 "Best Colleges" edition. Serving more than 11,000 students, NEIU has four campuses located in Chicago and Lake County communities facing large disparities in health and access to healthcare.

One of only 40 NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation, the Lurie Cancer Center's breadth and depth of innovative basic, clinical, cancer prevention, and population-based research complement NEIU's strengths. In addition, the partnership is enriched by the Lurie Cancer Center's deep-rooted commitment to training the next generation of clinicians and scientists, and reducing the cancer burden in all populations.

"We have a lot to learn from one another," says Co-Principal Investigator Melissa Simon, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor in the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Preventive Medicine, and Medical Social Sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "What makes this partnership unique is we're intent on addressing cancer health disparities through deliberate engagement. We're not simply focused on increasing research participation or gaining input to an established investigation, but on training MSI junior faculty and minority students how to be the initiators of credible scientific research. By weaving our collective strengths as universities into the social fabric of more Chicago-area communities, it is our hope that the CPRCHD program will serve as a catalyst in transforming cancer health outcomes at the community level," adds Simon who is also Director of Patient Navigation at the Lurie Cancer Center and an obstetrician-gynecologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

The grant will also fund multidisciplinary faculty projects, seminars and programs. More information about the CPRCHD program can be found at

(Last updated on June 24, 2013 )