Penn Medicine researchers get $2.9M for cardio-oncology study

The American Heart Association has awarded a team of Penn Medicine researchers $2.9 million to study heart disease and cancer in Black and Hispanic patients. 

The research program will focus on reducing racial disparities of minority patients with breast or prostate cancer, who are at increased risk of developing heart disease, according to a July 19 news release. 

Four more details: 

1. The funding will be distributed over the next four years and will involve a team of about 30 researchers. 

2. The program will be led by researchers from the cardio-oncology translational center of excellence at Philadelphia-based Penn Medicine. Bonnie Ky, MD, will serve as primary investigator. Dr. Ky is the director of Penn Medicine's cardio-oncology translational center of excellence. 

3. The team will assess how genetics, socioeconomic status and environment affect a person's health through basic and clinical research, as well as whether these relationships differ by race. 

4. Creating a medical student summer program to train the next generation of cardio-oncology leaders is also part of the initiative. Researchers will collaborate with Nashville-based Meharry Medical College to develop the program. It's the nation's largest, private, historically Black academic health sciences program. Curriculum will focus on building empathy and competency. 

“Ultimately we hope to define how the sociologic construct of race and genomic ancestry are associated with and determine cardiotoxicity in breast and prostate cancer,” said Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD, director of the Penn Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics and co-lead of the project's population science portion. “Using a range of innovative approaches like gamification and digital health, we want to deliver new ways to bridge disparities in care in historically underserved Black and Hispanic cancer survivors.”

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