PHILADELPHIA — The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has been awarded a $12 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to fund a new Center of Excellence in Prostate Cancer Disparities.

The gap in prostate cancer mortality rates among black and white men -- 62 per 100,000 in African American men and 26 per 100,000 men of European ancestry – is wider than that observed in any other major cancer. By combining transdisciplinary, translational research about the effects of biological, behavioral, social, environmental, and health care factors on prostate cancer outcomes, the new center’s investigators aim to develop and disseminate interventions that can be used to shrink those striking disparities.

The project will have three prongs. First, the Penn Medicine team will investigate the role of obesity in prostate cancer development and progression of the disease. Though obesity is a potentially modifiable risk factor, it’s not yet clear how racial composition of a neighborhood, socioeconomic status, living conditions and stress levels relate to obesity’s role in disease outcomes. They will also focus on biomarkers and neighborhood data to develop a model to help predict prostate cancer outcomes, and investigate differences in treatment experienced by black and white men as impacted by various barriers to care in an urban environment.

“Prostate cancer is a serious public health issue, particularly for African American men” says the project’s principal investigator, Timothy Rebbeck, PhD, a professor of Epidemiology who directs the Center for Genetics and Complex Traits in the Perelman School of Medicine and serves as associate director for Population Science in the Abramson Cancer Center.  “Our new center will address the causes of this health disparity.  We will be able to use the information from this project to improve the outcomes of African American men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer.”

Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $5.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 18 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $373 million awarded in the 2015 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report -- Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2015, Penn Medicine provided $253.3 million to benefit our community.

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