Apr 23, 2020 1:00 PM

Huntsman Cancer Institute’s (HCI) Geographic Management of Cancer Health Disparities program (GMaP) is an initiative of HCI’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion and is part of a nationwide program by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Organizations from seven hubs across the country work to reduce cancer health disparities and support career development for researchers and trainees who work on cancer health disparities.

GMaP has several key aims:

  • Advance cancer health disparities research
  • Support the next generation of competitive, underrepresented researchers who study cancer and cancer health disparities
  • Strengthen community education and outreach
  • Help reduce the region’s cancer health disparities

HCI’s region—hub 6—covers Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.

Because Region 6 spans seven states, researchers from small universities can connect with their peers and benefit from resources and mentorship they may not otherwise be able to access. Through GMaP, researchers in states without large cancer centers can participate in expert grant review sessions with HCI’s top researchers, obtain biosamples from out-of-state biorepositories, and network with colleagues across the region.

According to Clay Comstock, PhD, a professor at Salish Kootenai College in Montana, “The generous support of GMaP afforded the opportunity for undergraduates at a tribal college to perform environmental health-based research and gain the necessary experience to be competitive for advanced degree programs.”

GMaP facilitates collaboration in the region in several ways:

  • Promotes information and resource sharing
  • Publicizes capacity-building opportunities
  • Links developing researchers to mentors and opportunities
  • Cultivates an atmosphere for productive networking
  • Tracks regional efforts on behalf of NCI

A number of initiatives support the professional development of underrepresented researchers and researchers who study cancer health disparities, including funds for travel and research.

As HCI research scientist Judy Ou, PhD, says, “The GMaP pilot and travel funding I received has proven invaluable to developing my career. A GMaP-funded project provided me the opportunity to speak at two conferences. That same research will be presented as a focus article in a leading cancer journal this summer.”

judy ou

The program benefits new and early-stage investigators as they pursue funding opportunities and research independence. Larissa White, PhD candidate at the University of Nevada Reno and a recipient of GMaP Region 6 Pilot Award funding, says, “The grant I received through GMaP has greatly supported my doctoral research and educational development. This funding provided an opportunity to purchase data for my dissertation and receive training to further my knowledge in advanced statistical methodologies.”

GMaP works closely with NCI to promote the Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) program, which offers training and career opportunities to enhance diversity in the cancer and cancer health disparities research workforce. To foster greater diversity in cancer research, underrepresented cancer researchers qualify for all GMaP initiatives, regardless of their research focus.

Since its launch in 2015, HCI’s GMaP has awarded more than $70,000 in travel funds, $200,000 in pilot funds, and matched more than 20 trainees to mentors. 

Learn more and sign up for monthly e-blasts from HCI’s GMaP program.

The GMaP program is supported by the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute P30 CA042014 (Beckerle, PI) and Huntsman Cancer Foundation.

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