Newswise — New Haven, Conn. Yale Cancer Center (YCC) has been awarded a $1 million grant by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation (BSMF) to address health care disparities in cancer care and support. The grant will fund the Cancer Disparities Firewall project, a multilevel intervention that focuses on patient and system level factors that contribute to cancer disparities in the YCC/New Haven, Connecticut area. The project will target lung, breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer. "As a National Cancer Institute designated comprehensive cancer center, YCC is committed to promoting diversity, eliminating disparities, and embracing health equity through research, education, and clinical care," said Roy Herbst, M.D., Ph.D., chief of Medical Oncology at YCC and co-principal investigator for the Cancer Disparities Firewall project. “This grant will enable us to seek out innovative approaches to help underserved, at-risk patients.”

“Promoting health equity and providing an innovative standard of care for vulnerable populations is a top priority for the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation and Yale Cancer Center,” said John Damonti, president, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. “We are proud to support the Cancer Disparities Firewall project and the work it will do to improve cancer outcomes for patients in New Haven.

At the core of the Cancer Disparities Firewall project is a team of cancer dedicated patient navigators. The navigators will provide wrap-around services to help address the barriers that sometimes stand in the way of patients receiving necessary follow up after a medical test or adhering to recommended treatments. Using a team approach, this will ensure that patients can focus on staying healthy, finding cancer early, and getting the best care possible.

To help bridge the gap with the New Haven community, project leaders will partner with the Yale Clinical Care Investigation (YCCI) Cultural Ambassadors Program, funded with a Clinical and Translational Science Award, which works with local community and church leaders to promote health. For this initiative, the Cultural Ambassadors will promote cancer prevention, cancer screening, and the advantages and opportunities represented by cancer clinical trials.

Project investigators will also partner with the Yale School of Public Health and Community Alliance for Research & Engagement (CARE), which works to improve health in the city of New Haven through community engagement, collaborative community-based research, and dissemination of findings.

Co-Principal investigator, Beth Anne Jones, Ph.D, M.P.H., assistant director for Diversity and Health Equity at YCC, said these partnerships will help to eliminate the barriers to care that prevent our at-risk patients from accessing early diagnosis and life-saving treatment. “The Cancer Disparities Firewall project will help to prevent cancer and improve cancer outcomes for patients in Connecticut,” said Jones. “With a support team of navigators who can help address the social barriers as well as other factors that impact medical care, we will contribute to both improved outcomes and improved quality of life.”

The project will also partner with Gateway Community College in New Haven to build a cancer dedicated training core into an existing patient navigation program. This Gateway Navigation program enrolls local students who are interested in broadening their skill sets and will be better prepared for working in a local institution or health care environments.

About Yale Cancer Center Yale Cancer Center (YCC) is one of only 49 National Cancer Institute (NCI-designated comprehensive cancer) centers in the nation and the only such center in southern New England. Comprehensive cancer centers play a vital role in the advancement of the NCI’s goal of reducing morbidity and mortality from cancer through scientific research, cancer prevention, and innovative cancer treatment.

About Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation The mission of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is to help reduce health disparities by strengthening community-based health care worker capacity, integrating medical care and community-based supportive services, and mobilizing communities in the fight against disease.

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