Home VCU Massey Cancer Center to lead alliance for equitable cancer care

VCU Massey Cancer Center to lead alliance for equitable cancer care

Rebecca Barnabi

vcu massey cancer centerVCU Massey Cancer Center operates on a “community-to-bench model.

The community informs and partners with the cancer center on research to address the burdens and disparities of a cancer diagnosis in underserved areas. In turn, Massey is better able to refine scientific questions and drive meaningful cancer research, education, care and policy initiatives.

Now VCU Massey will serve as the National Program Office for the Alliance for Equity in Cancer Care. Funded by the Merck Foundation, according to a press release, the initiative works to make cancer care equitable in the United States by assisting patients living in underserved communities and ensuring they receive timely access to high-quality, culturally responsive care. The foundation will support Massey with grant funding to select nonprofit health care organizations and develop and implement evidence-formed, innovative programs to advance equity in cancer care.

“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to making sure that cancer care is equitable,” Dr. Robert Winn, Director and Lipman Chair in Oncology at VCU Massey Cancer Center, said in the press release. Winn is also senior associate dean for cancer innovation at the VCU School of Medicine and director of the Alliance National Program Office. “We are supporting diverse approaches — driven by local community needs — to reduce the unacceptable disparities in cancer care. We hope to improve the lives of people living with cancer and help transform how health systems deliver care so that it meets the medical and social needs of patients.”

Massey and Alliance program grantees will work together “to improve the coordination of patient care from diagnosis through survivorship; strengthen patient engagement in treatment decisions and overall patient-provider communication; build community partnerships that address barriers to care related to social determinants of health; and provide essential psychosocial support services,” the press release stated.

“Massey is leading the nation in cancer health equity research, and we are excited to share our experience collaborating with diverse populations to better understand and address their needs and facilitate cross-site program evaluation with the members of the Alliance program,” Emmanuel A. Taylor, Associate Director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) at VCU Massey Cancer Center and co-director of the Alliance National Program Office and Lead Evaluator, said in the press release.

Massey will also help Alliance program grantees build partnerships with community-based organizations and provide technical assistance to support programs.

“The severity of the need to take action on advancing equity in cancer care cannot be overstated and will not be overlooked,” Carmen Villar, CEO of the Merck Foundation, said in the press release. “We must move with urgency and work together to provide all people living with cancer access to high-quality care and treatment. The creation of the Alliance is an important step toward ensuring social determinants of health no longer factor into an individual’s ability to receive vital health care.”

Alliance program grantees include Boston Medical CenterCase Comprehensive Cancer Center, Case Western Reserve UniversityConquer Cancer®, the ASCO FoundationMary Bird Perkins Cancer CenterMemorial Sloan Kettering Cancer CenterRWJBarnabas Health; and University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center.

A U.S.-based and private charitable foundation established in 1957, the Merck Foundation is a leading global biopharmaceutical company, and has contributed nearly $1 billion to support important initiatives that address critical global health and societal needs.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.