Cancer Research Interest Group (Cancer RIG)
InCHIP hosts the Cancer Research Interest Group (Cancer RIG) for affiliate researchers interested in biopsychosocial issues across the entire cancer control continuum of prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment, survivorship, and end-of life. The mission of the Cancer RIG is to increase high-quality, impactful cancer control research across the UConn Storrs and UConn Health campuses. The Cancer RIG aims to foster interdisciplinary collaboration and increase opportunities for obtaining external grant funding. The group includes members from a range of departments and schools within UConn Storrs and UConn Health, as well as from other universities, local healthcare facilities, and community organizations.
The Cancer RIG meets periodically throughout the year and co-sponsors cancer-related talks as part of the InCHIP Lecture Series. In addition, it organizes and sponsors a variety of events and activities dedicated to achieving its mission.
To join the Cancer Research Interest Group, please contact the Cancer RIG Leadership Team.
Chair, Cancer Research Interest Group
Professor, Department of Psychological Sciences
Principal Investigator, InCHIP
Associate Director, InCHIP
Associate Research Professor, InCHIP
Principal Investigator, InCHIP
What can the Cancer RIG do for you?
Cancer RIG Highlights: 2015-2016
September 2015: On September 24th, the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science’s (CICATS) Cancer Control and Prevention Cancer Interest Group hosted a Science Café at Costa del Sol Restaurant in Hartford to promote healthy cancer survivorship and related clinical and research opportunities. The event brought together 25 professionals, approximately ten practitioners and 15 researchers, from Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Hartford Hospital, the University of Connecticut, and UConn Health Center to meet and conduct roundtable discussions on issues central to cancer survivorship. The keynote speaker at the event, Dr. Tara Sanft, M.D., launched lively discussion following her presentation on the cancer care continuum and opportunities that she envisions for clinical research in the survivorship population. Following the event, all attendees were provided with talking notes from each roundtable discussion and a comprehensive list including the contact information, research interests, and areas of expertise for others who attended. We hope that successful collaborations in cancer survivorship research will grow from the success of this networking event!
2014-2015: The formation of the Cancer RIG and the support provided by them to researchers across the UConn campuses has resulted in a substantial increase in external funding in the area of cancer prevention and control. In FY15, there were 12 active cancer grants for total direct costs of $3.9 million. This represents approximately a 3.9 fold increase in external funding compared to FY13 when there were four active cancer grants for total direct costs of $1.0 million.
Fall 2014 and Spring 2015: The Cancer RIG sponsored and promoted several InCHIP Lecture Series speakers on cancer topics:
- Terrance Albrecht, PhD from Karmanos Cancer Institute at Wayne State University School of Medicine – Lecture on “Reducing Cancer Health Disparities Using Community Engaged Research” followed by a discussion group on “Tips for Establishing a Community-Engaged Research Program”
- William Klein, PhD from Behavioral Research Program at NIH’s National Cancer Institute – Lecture on “Self-Affirmation: From Theory to Process to Health Impact”
- Rick Gibbons, PhD from Psychology Department at University of Connecticut – Lecture on “Racism as a Carcinogen: Risk, Resilience, and Genetic Sensitivity”
- Julia Rowland, PhD from Office of Cancer Survivorship at NIH’s National Cancer Institute – “Addressing Cancer Survivors’ Health Behaviors: Emerging Challenges and Opportunities”
In the Spring 2014 semester-the Cancer RIG hosted a seed grant competition with funding from the Vice President for Research, Dean of the School of Medicine, and InCHIP. The focus of the competition was to foster cancer control health behavior research collaborations across campuses and disciplines by providing funding for seed grants to be awarded to dual PI teams of researchers from the Storrs and UConn Health campuses. The goal of this initiative was to fund pilot work that will facilitate the submission of grant proposals to the National Cancer Institute. The opportunity was advertised widely across both campuses and through the Cancer RIG. Ten applicant teams submitted proposals in NIH format in April that were reviewed by a team of six internal experts from both campuses, as well as the director of a National Cancer Institute Cancer Prevention Center. The three winning proposals, each awarded $35,000, were:
- “Exercise, Bone and Cardiovascular Health in Breast Cancer Survivors.”
Principle Investigatorss: InCHIP Affiliate Keith Bellizzi, Department of Human Development and Family Studies and Pam Taxel, MD, Department of Medicine.
- “Pharmacist Intervention in Colorectal Cancer Screening Initiative (PICCSI)”
Principle Investigators: InCHIP Affiliate Lisa Holle, Department of Pharmacy Practice and Joel Levine, Department of Medicine.
- “Improving Quality of Life for Pediatric Cancer Patients and Parents through Yoga”
Principle Investigators: InCHIP PI Crystal Park, Department of Psychology and InCHIP Affiliate Andrea Orsey, Department of Pediatrics.
In March 2014, the Cancer RIG invited Dr. Rebecca Ferrer, a Program Officer at the National Institute of Cancer (and 2007 graduate of UConn’s Ph.D. program in Social Psychology) to make a presentation to Cancer RIG members on current funding opportunities at NCI. This meeting provided information on the current and future NCI portfolios, included a very energetic Q & A session, and was useful to both junior and senior researchers at InCHIP and UConn Health.
In May 2014, the Cancer RIG held a focus group for junior cancer researchers from UConn Storrs and UConn Health (primarily assistant professors) to elicit feedback on the needs of less experienced researchers. The goal of the meeting, facilitated by Dr. Megan Gerrard and Dr. Deborah Cornman, was to learn more about the kinds of programs, services, and resources that would help junior researchers in their research, funding, and collaboration efforts. Notable needs and wishes shared by the participants included: dedicated mentorship, “soup to nuts” guidance on the process of grant writing and its various associated forms and requirements, examples of both successful and unsuccessful grant proposals, and a system for finding potential collaborators outside of one’s own department. InCHIP is working to provide the services that were requested.