The funding underwrites research regarding the relationship between genetics and aggressive prostate cancer in African Americans, the connection between viruses and cervical cancer, and the role of genes in asthma and obesity among children.

Research has yet to determine why some diseases, like cervical and prostate cancer, disproportionately affect minorities, though it’s often credited to a lack of health care access and information. Could genetics be a signifi – cant factor too? That’s what scientists at Dillard University and the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center are now trying to prove, with help from a $6.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

In particular, the funding underwrites research regarding the relationship between genetics and aggressive prostate cancer in African Americans, the connection between viruses and cervical cancer, and the role of genes in asthma and obesity among children.

Awarded in June, the fi veyear grant will fund genetic research, support community education programs, and sponsor clinical trial recruitment efforts, all among minority communities. The lack of diverse ethnic and racial participation in clinical trials is an ongoing, national problem as well, and researchers must combat lingering mistrust, stemming from improperly conducted research in the past. Nursing students at Dillard, a historically black university, are being specially trained to recruit minorities for their clinical studies.

Rather than stress the racial determinants, researchers hope to pinpoint the key genetic combinations that make people susceptible to certain diseases, regardless of their ethnicity. However, the overarching goal is addressing, reducing, and eliminating health disparities among ethnic groups.

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