Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Cancer Prevention and Control

Program co-leaders
Darlene H. Brunzell, Ph.D. and Vanessa B. Sheppard, Ph.D

VCU Massey Cancer Center’s Cancer Prevention and Control (CPC) program has 38 members representing 12 departments and four schools. The central theme of the CPC program is to translate its research findings into practice and policy to improve the prevention, detection, treatment and control of cancer. The CPC program strives to enhance the quality of life of all individuals affected by cancer, including a large African-American population served within Massey’s catchment area. Massey received distinction as a Minority/Underserved NCI Community Oncology Research Program to further advance research in this important area of need. Additionally, CPC clinical trials and much of the program’s basic science research addresses disparities in this population.

Scientific goals

  • Reducing cancer risk
  • Improving cancer-related care

Both of the scientific goals are tied together by the cross-cutting theme of alleviating disparities. CPC continues to achieve significant impact in these areas as evidenced by the program’s accomplishments of: translating MCC basic science findings into clinical trials for a novel smoking cessation therapy; informing the FDA and WHO tobacco policy on modified-risk tobacco products such as e-cigarettes with a multi-PI P50 grant; decreasing cancer risk through obesity control in high-risk populations–adolescents and African Americans; improving cancer screening decision making; enhancing patient and caregiver experience with cancer care; identifying Medicaid and other policy effects on access to care; identifying barriers to African American enrollment in clinical trials; and developing methods to overcome these barriers.

In line with the NCI priority to foster multidisciplinary research, Massey has facilitated cross-cutting collaborations by generating an award program dedicated to CPC inter-programmatic pilot projects, several of which have recently led to large externally funded grant projects. Value is added by Massey shared resources and CPC-sponsored education and training through monthly seminars, inter-programmatic research retreats, competitive CPC pilot grants, and through support of student and trainee fellowships.

During 2011 to 2015, the CPC program had a total of 475 publications, of which 22% were intra-programmatic and 10% were inter-programmatic.

In summary, the CPC program is a vital, dynamic and growing program within Massey Cancer Center, which addresses the unique needs of the MCC catchment area, as well as the nation more generally. The program, with its vibrant research agenda, engaged multidisciplinary membership and ongoing support from Massey, is well poised to continue to build upon the impact of its high-quality basic science, clinical, policy and outcomes research.