Tuskegee University enters into partnership with Men's Health Institute to further cancer research


TUSKEGEE, Ala. (November 10, 2010) — The Tuskegee University Cancer Research Program and the Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center/Curtis D. Robinson Men's Health Institute of Hartford, Conn., signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Nov. 8, officially beginning a collaboration in hopes of combating and reducing prostate cancer incidence and mortality rates among black men. Representatives from all entities and Tuskegee Mayor Omar Neal were present for the historic moment.

"In the last 700 days, we have found 25 men who were diagnosed with prostate cancer," said Curtis D. Robinson, a prostate cancer survivor and businessman who donated $1.1 million to launch the Connecticut institute in February. "These are people who would have died in eight or nine months. I'm so elated to be at Tuskegee today. I know we can find a cure for this. Our goal is to save lives."

The Tuskegee program has previously had only random samples for its research, never really finding the exact answers as to why black men are plagued with prostate cancer at such alarming rates. The new partnership will allow Tuskegee to receive tissue from the surgeries black men have at Saint Francis. Robinson's institute provides funds for check-ups, operations and post-operation follow-up for the rest of the patients' lives.

According to Chris Dadlez, president and CEO of Saint Francis, Tuskegee receives much respect from the black population that the program services. "There is respect for what you stand for. It really makes a difference," he said.

The research program at Tuskegee has extensive experience in the development and implementation of effective cancer partnerships, such as the Morehouse School of Medicine/Tuskegee University/University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center (MSM/TU/UABCCC) Partnership and the Pittsburgh Tuskegee Prostate Training Program. These partnerships focus on developing comprehensive programs and supportive resource cores aimed at understanding the reasons behind cancer health disparities and their impact on racial, ethnic, and socio-economically disadvantaged populations.

Dr. Gilbert L. Rochon, President of the University, expressed an interest to continue and increase the institution's collaborations in research.

"We are open to increasing partnerships, not only for prostate cancer, but for chronic, infectious diseases among the impoverished and genetically predisposed," he said.

The George Washington Carver Humanitarian Award was presented to Robinson and his wife, Sheila, for their contributions and support for this partnership and other projects.

Faculty, staff, students and others later attended special lectures led by Robinson and Saint Francis personnel Dr. Jeffery Steinberg (chief of surgery) and Dr. Mark McKinney (director of pastoral counseling), focusing on entrepreneurship and pathways to medical school in the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center Auditorium.

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