University Park, IL ,
12:47 PM

GUIDE Leads the Way to Change

GSU Senior Monet Jones was still in high school when both grandmothers succumbed to cancer. She thought the family had done all they could—until now.

“I wish I knew then what I know now,’’ said Jones who shadowed a community health worker at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) as part of the first Summer Research Fellows Cohort.

“We knew our family history, we should have done more in the area of prevention.”

Doing more to promote preventative care barriers is at the core of the GUIDE (Governors

State University–UI Cancer Center Disparity Education) Cancer Research Training Project that pairs GSU stud

ents and faculty with UICC mentors to promote community-based research that will address high cancer rates and mortality in the Southland community. Jones was one of five GSU students who worked with researchers for eight weeks at UIC.

The project is funded by a joint four-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Cancer Institute.

In addition to removing barriers to care, project planners want to mentor and develop faculty, as well create a research pipeline of students to ultimately attract more research dollars to the university.

“My dream is for GSU to increase our capacity to do and fund research that supports our teaching and service mission,” said Dr. Catherine Balthazar, Interim Dean of the College of Health and Human Services and Chair of the Department of Communication Disorders. She is co-principal investigator for the grant. “Having this kind of partnership increases our ability to compete for funding and gives us more power to address some of the problems we find important.”

Now in its third year, GUIDE is celebrating unforeseen success – two professors have achieved full tenure – as planners look forward to launching a mobile application, an intervention tool that puts health risk assessments at the fingertips of patients.

Applications are also being accepted for a second round of summer fellows.

Dr. Rupert Evans, Sr., Chair and Program Director of GSU’s Department of Health Administration and co-principal investigator for GUIDE, said he is hopeful about future funding and researchers.

He’s more excited about the historic grant, the first ever awarded that allows two-minority serving institutions to look at cancer research.

“The biggest win has been the collaboration. It hasn’t happened before in the United States. This is important because of the disproportionate rate that people of color are affected by disease,’’ Evans said. “ If you look at the how people of color are impacted—we are disproportionally represented in every major disease at every level—heart disease, diabetes, prostate cancer, cancer. Until now, we had very few black and brown people who look like us who are trying to eliminate those disparities. GSU and UIC are uniquely positioned to do this work because we have relationships with the communities that are risk and able to develop trust to do the research.”

Jones, who plans to study public health administration, wants to explore health care disparities and help eliminate the barriers to care. She said talking with community workers who shared racial background with her grandmothers could have saved their lives.

To know better is to do better, said Jones, who plans to study public health administration after graduation. She wants to remove health care disparities starting with this Public Service Announcement:

“Get screened. Go and talk with your health care provider to learn your risk factors. If you are at risk, you can see about your options.’’