Cancer Health Disparities Training Program in Health Behavior
POSTDOCTORAL TRAINING OPPORTUNITY
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The Cancer Health Disparities (CHD) Training Program
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, exceeded only by heart disease. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), about 1,437,180 new cases of non-skin cancers are expected to be diagnosed in 2008 and about 565,650 persons are expected to die of cancer [ACS, 2008]. Cancer disparities can be broadly defined as unequal health care and distribution of disease and disease risk factors for different segments of the population, resulting in inferior health outcomes for certain groups and an unequal burden in disease incidence, morbidity, mortality, survival, and quality of life.
The overall goal of the Cancer Health Disparities Training (CHD) Program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) is to educate and train talented scientists to become future leaders in cancer health disparities research. Although cancer incidence and mortality have stabilized since the early 1990s, rates vary appreciably by race, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status. In particular, incidence and mortality are generally higher, and survival rates lower, in ethnic/racial minority groups compared to whites. These racial and ethnic disparities represent both a challenge to understand causes, and an opportunity to reduce illness and death and to improve survival rates. A pivotal component to success in addressing these disparities is the availability of well-trained and energetic scientists to foster new, innovative research on both the causes of cancer disparities and methods to translate biologic and epidemiologic findings into effective prevention and control programs for use by government and community organizations.
The Cancer Health Disparities Training Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) offers post-doctoral training on cross-cutting health disparity issues across the cancer continuum, from etiology and primary prevention to survivorship. The program is inclusive of the major cancers (including, lung, breast, colorectal, prostate, and skin) and cancer risk factors (e.g., diet, physical activity, obesity, tobacco, screening/early detection, and environmental exposures). Training includes education on environmental and molecular epidemiological bases of disparities; detection, health cancer epidemiology; research methods; cancer prevention and control (health promotion, screening/early communications, community-based participatory research, dissemination, health policy); as well as issues related to access to care, socio-economic disparities in and cultural differences in treatment and survivorship issues, such as treatment preferences and beliefs that affect health care utilization and participation in clinical trials, use of complementary and alternative medicine, and other factors that differentially affect quality of life.
The program is open to 1-3 post-doctoral trainees and offers:
- A specialized curriculum that fosters multidisciplinary understanding of cancer health disparities, including a cancer disparities seminar, training on research ethics and recommended courses in health disparities and cultural competency.
- Training experience in interdisciplinary research that focuses on cancer health disparities
- Career development experiences that enhance professional skills and build professional networks.
Fellows receive two to three years of funding. Performance is evaluated at the end of each year; subsequent years are awarded depending on progress.
Trainees are assigned mentors in more than one discipline, learn research communication and grant writing skills, create tailored career development plans, and learn how to transition from training to productive career paths.
The program will capitalize on the highly collaborative, productive, and multidisciplinary cancer research community that exists at UNC-Chapel Hill. Program participants will learn research skills and gain familiarity with the many scientific disciplines and methods involved in research on cancer health disparities based on a socio-ecological model of health.
The program is administered through the Department of Health Behavior, but draws upon collaborative, interdisciplinary research teams that focus on cancer health disparities at UNC-Chapel Hill. Faculty mentors include 18 faculty from six departments in the Schools of Public Health and Medicine, as well as members of the Cecil B. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, and the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Eligible postdoctoral candidates will have successfully completed a doctoral degree (PhD, DrPH, MD, or equivalent) in fields related to public health and cancer, medicine or dentistry. In addition, the successful candidate will be required to articulate a strong commitment to conducting research in cancer health disparities and to ultimately obtaining a (career) position that would enable him/her to actively participate in initiatives aimed at eliminating cancer health disparities.