U. of Chicago Medicine Opens Center to Eliminate Cancer Inequity

Feb. 16, 2024
The center’s launch comes five months after the academic health system broke ground on an $815 million project to build Chicago’s first free-standing facility dedicated to cancer care and research

The University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center has created a new center to address inequities in cancer care. 

The Center to Eliminate Cancer Inequity (CinEQUITY) will work to pioneer research that addresses biological, social and structural factors that adversely affect excluded or marginalized people in the Chicagoland area. The goal is to ultimately create solutions for eliminating disparities that can be implemented by communities, healthcare systems and policymakers.

CinEQUITY is pronounced like “see inequity.” The center’s launch, announced Feb. 16, comes five months after the academic health system broke ground on an $815 million project to build Chicago’s first free-standing facility dedicated to cancer care and research. The new pavilion, slated to open in 2027, is designed to dramatically improve cancer patients’ experience, reduce health disparities in underserved communities and accelerate scientific discoveries.

“Unacceptable disparities in cancer prevention and care delivery impede even current best practices from reaching the underserved,” said Kunle Odunsi, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center; dean for Oncology, Biological Sciences Division; and The AbbVie Foundation Distinguished Service Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, in a statement.

“CinEQUITY will unite researchers, community leaders, advocates, survivors, policy makers and partners from various sectors to forge innovative pathways toward eliminating barriers to health equity,” Odunsi said.

On Chicago’s South Side, where UChicago Medicine’s flagship medical campus operates, cancer incidence is expected to climb 12 percent in the next decade alone. South Side residents are twice as likely to die from cancer as people living in the rest of the country.

By serving as a hub to catalyze research aimed at eliminating cancer inequities, CinEQUITY will provide core resources to partner with community leaders in planning the center’s research priorities and evaluating progress; support collaboration with community-based organizations to execute projects; train in best practices for conducting community-engaged research; build inclusive research teams; and disseminate research findings to influence policy and practice.

“The mission of CinEQUITY is to co-design solutions with our community that shatter disparities in cancer prevention and care,” said Jasmin Tiro, Ph.D., M.P.H., professor of Public Health Sciences, and the director of the new center, in a statement. “Our guiding vision is of a future where every individual, regardless of background or circumstance, has equitable outcomes when preventing, treating and surviving cancer.”

“CinEQUITY allows us to deepen and expand our ongoing work in the Cancer Center in addressing cancer disparities at multiple levels — the delivery of care, research and how we communicate with the public,” said CinEQUITY Co-Director Nita K. Lee, M.D., M.P.H., in a statement. Lee is associate professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and associate director for Community Outreach and Engagement at the Comprehensive Cancer Center. “By adding more resources and building on the momentum of existing academic-community partnerships, CinEQUITY will accelerate our progress toward cancer equity,” she added. 

CinEQUITY’s external advisory board includes national leaders in cancer disparities, including Otis W. Brawley, M.D., a renowned cancer disparities researcher and the Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Oncology and Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University. He delivered a keynote speech at the Center’s launch event.

The Comprehensive Cancer Center is celebrating 50 years as a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer center. 

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