ICAP and the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC) announced the second round of funding from the ICAP-HICCC Cancer Initiative (IHCI) to support two pilot research projects. Formed in 2021, the IHCI is a platform for training, research, education, and programs focused on global cancer prevention and management. 

“In partnership with ICAP, a leader in global public health, the HICCC pilot grants support important interdisciplinary research that will identify and address gaps in global cancer education, treatment, and prevention,” said Anil Rustgi, MD, director of the HICCC. 

Selected by a review committee, researchers will receive $30,000 to conduct one-year pilot research projects that aim to address major gaps in cancer screening, prevention, and management in low- and middle-income countries. The projects selected in this round proposed innovative strategies to address critical research gaps and will lay the foundation for future work aimed at reducing the burden and premature mortality caused by breast cancer and colorectal cancer in Kenya and South Africa respectively. 

“Investing in these research projects will advance efforts to better detect, treat, and prevent cancer in communities facing high rates of premature mortality from cancers in low-resource settings,” said Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, MPH, MPA, founder and global director of ICAP. “This demonstrates the commitment to make strides in facing the threat of cancer in these contexts.”  

The 2022 grant recipients include: 

Yoanna Pumpalova, MD, Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC), Division Hematology & Oncology to support the development of a clinical prediction model to improve colorectal cancer outcomes in South Africa 

Adana Llanos, PhD, MPH, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health (Mailman), to support the examination of personal care and hair product use among women in Kenya and assess knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions of use in the context of breast cancer risk. 

About the Awardees 

Development of a Clinical Prediction Model to Improve Colorectal Cancer Outcomes in South Africa 

In South Africa, cases of colorectal cancer are on the rise. Owing to late-stage diagnosis, patients with colorectal cancer in South Africa are twice as likely to die of the disease compared to patients from the United States. Earlier detection of colorectal cancer in symptomatic patients could lead to diagnoses at earlier stages and improve outcomes for South African patients. 

Pumpalova will develop a clinical prediction model for colorectal cancer patients in South Africa experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms. The model may expedite colonoscopies in patients at highest risk for colorectal cancer and improve outcomes by earlier colorectal cancer detection and intervention.    

“We hope that this research will help diagnose colorectal cancer at an earlier stage among South African patients,” said Pumpalova. “Colorectal cancer is highly treatable if found early, thus this research has the potential to greatly improve outcomes for patients with colorectal cancer in South Africa.” 

 Personal Care and Hair Product Use Among Women in Kenya: Assessment of Knowledge, Attitudes, and Perceptions of Use in the Context of Breast Cancer Risk 

In Kenya, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death. Many personal care products, such as those used for hair and skin care, contain potentially harmful chemicals which may increase the risk of breast cancer. 

Llanos and a team of researchers will gather new data about the prevalence of hair product use, practices, and attitudes and perceptions of use among adult women and their multigenerational households in Embu and Nakuru counties in Kenya. The study will also assess hair product brands and chemicals found in them, based on product labels, to gain insights about chemicals of concern that might be impacting health outcomes in these communities.  

“There is an unequal burden of exposure to personal care products – especially hair products – across populations,” said Llanos. “This might contribute to cancer inequities as the groups with the greatest exposure also experience poorer cancer outcomes.” 

Data obtained from the study will serve as a starting point to establishing an international research collaboration focused on understanding the association of personal care products with breast cancer risk among women in Kenya. The study’s findings will also inform the development of interventions to reduce chemical exposures among vulnerable groups. 

Investigators joining Dr. Llanos in the study are Mary Beth Terry, PhD; and Jasmine McDonald, PhD; (Mailman); Beatrice Irungu, PhD; Esther Matu, PhD; and Cecilia Kimani, PhD, Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI); and Patrick Kareru, PhD (Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology). 

About ICAP 

A major global health organization that has been improving public health in countries around the world for nearly two decades, ICAP works to transform the health of populations through innovation, science, and global collaboration. Based at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, ICAP has projects in nearly 40 countries, working side-by-side with ministries of health and local governmental, non-governmental, academic, and community partners to confront some of the world’s greatest health challenges. Through evidence-informed programs, meaningful research, tailored technical assistance, effective training and education programs, and rigorous surveillance to measure and evaluate the impact of public health interventions, ICAP aims to realize a global vision of healthy people, empowered communities, and thriving societies. 

About HICCC 

The Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC) is the home for cancer research and patient care at Columbia University and NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. The HICCC cancer center researchers and physicians are dedicated to understanding the complex biology behind cancer, from before it begins to its evolution and spread. The HICCC applies that knowledge to the discovery and design of innovative cancer therapies and prevention strategies that reduce the disease’s incidence and progression and improve the quality of life for all those affected – in the New York region and throughout the world. The HICCC is one of only 51 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the United States, a designation that it has maintained since 1979. The HICCC has more than 200 members across six schools at Columbia University with more than $30 million in National Cancer Institute funding and > $100 million in cancer grants. Partnering with the top hospital and leading academic center in New York City, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, and Columbia University, the HICCC fosters a community of scientific excellence and outstanding patient care. 

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