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Ga CaRes increasing service to minority and medically underserved populations in Georgia

Augusta University

Georgia Cancer Research – or GA CaRes, under the direction of Principal Investigator Dr. Sharad Ghamande at Augusta University’s Georgia Cancer Center is one of 14 Minority/Underserved (MU) National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) Community Sites across the country. Initially awarded in August 2014, the Georgia Cancer Center was granted the six-year $6 million extension in August 2019 by NCI. The main goals of the consortium are to sustain and grow a program that focuses on improving patient outcomes and reducing health disparities in MU populations.

The GA CaRes partnership not only reaches across Georgia, but recently expanded to a site in Mississippi. Currently, the lead sites and Principal Investigators are:
•    Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (Albany), Dr. Chirag Jani
•    University Cancer & Blood Center (Athens), Dr. Petros Nikolinakos
•    Morehouse School of Medicine (Atlanta), Dr. Roland Mathews
•    Augusta Oncology Associates (Augusta), Dr. Alice David
•    St. Dominic-Jackson Memorial Hospital (Jackson, Miss.), Dr. Donald Paul Seago 
And two more sites are pending to join the partnership:
•    Northwest Georgia Hematology and Oncology (Dalton), Dr. Sam Naguib
•    Cancer Center of Middle Georgia (Dublin), Dr. Arvind Aggarwal

Additionally, GA CaRes strengthens relationships with six of the seven affiliated NCORP Research Bases across the country – Alliance, COG, ECOG-ACRIN, NRG, SWOG & Wake Forest. Since August 1, 2019, 97 patients have been registered to cancer control, prevention, screening/post-treatment surveillance trials, imaging and treatment trials. Of the 97 patients enrolled, 68% are reported as African American, Hispanic or Asian, contributing to an increase in the percentage of minority enrollment since the program started in Georgia.

Advancing our directive, Augusta University and Georgia CORE continue to contribute to the affiliate research bases’ scientific research and protocol development. As an approved Phase I Site for NRG Oncology, the GCC’s Department of Gynecologic Oncology, led by Dr. Ghamande, has notably increased accrual over the past two years. AU’s Dr. Anand Jillella is the ECOG-ACRIN study chair for EA9131, “A Simplified Patient Care Strategy to Decrease Early Deaths in Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APL).” Also, AU’s Georgia Esoteric & Molecular Laboratory under the direction of Dr. Ravindra Kolhe is one of 18 approved academic laboratories for NCI-MATCH.

Dr. Martha Tingen, RN, Co-I and Cancer Care Delivery Research lead for GA CaRes has enhanced the scope of research by encompassing activities that seek to improve clinical outcomes and patient well-being by intervening on patient, clinical, and organizational factors that influence care delivery. The GA CaRes consortium under her lead has successfully participated in 10 of the 12 available CCDR trials through the NCTN. Since August 1, 2019, 40 patients were registered to CCDR studies. Of those 40 patients, 70% are reported as African American, Hispanic or Asian. Furthering the CCDR scope of research, 10 Oncology Health Care Providers were consented to participate. Across the GA CaRes consortium, 47 Oncology Health Care Providers participated in CCDR studies.  

To expand GA CaRes community outreach and further enhance rural, diverse, and disparate populations to participate in cancer control, prevention, and CCDR studies, additional National Clinical Trial Network research partnerships are being established with Eisenhower Army Medical Center in Augusta, Cancer Center of Middle Georgia in Dublin, and Northwest Georgia Hematology Oncology in Dalton. This expansion will allow GA CaRes to continue to serve large regions of the state with high concentrations of minority and medically underserved populations.

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Georgia CORE is a public-private partnership that creates collaboration among the state’s cancer organizations and institutions to connect more Georgians to quality, personalized cancer care. We welcome you to this one-of-a-kind online information center for all things related to cancer and survivorship care in Georgia.