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Regional cancer research collaboration leads to upcoming conference

November 27, 2018

Contact: Brittney Dabney, Office of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing

Image of two states with the name of the three schools in collaborationA continuing NIH National Cancer Institute grant for cancer research partnership will allow Tuskegee University to co-host a conference on bioethics issues in minority health and health disparities research Jan. 23-25, 2019.

The conference, entitled “Effective Health Care and Inclusion: Growing the Next Generation of Researchers for Bioethics, Biomedical, Behavioral, and Health Disparities Research,” is the second such conference resulting from a research partnership between Tuskegee University, the Morehouse School of Medicine, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center. It will be held at the Auburn Marriott Opelika Hotel and Conference Center at Grand National in Opelika.

The three institutions, which are assisting underserved communities, possess unique strengths that supplement each other. The partnership’s primary objectives are to maintain progress in establishing productive cancer research programs at Tuskegee and Morehouse. These persist in developing a pipeline of prospective minority investigators at Tuskegee and further expand cancer disparity research at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Stephen Sodeke, the grant’s lead bioethicist and a Tuskegee University professor, said the conference’s goal is to equip current and future researchers with the tools needed to address bioethical issues raised by biomedical, behavioral, minority health and health disparities research in order to achieve health equity.

“We want the older generations of researchers to talk with the new generations in cancer health disparities research so that we can all work together to broaden our understanding of bioethical issues specific to minority health and health disparities research,” Sodeke said.

“It’s important for all researchers to understand how to utilize their knowledge and other transformative ways that could potentially improve health and eliminate health disparities in their home institutions or new environments,” he added.

The conference seeks to highlight the many ethical issues researchers must address in efforts that eliminate the disparities.

“Creative methods that are responsive to issues of race, ethnicity, gender, class, and spirituality of research participants — as well as those of investigators — are required to understand and resolve relevant ethical issues,” Sodeke explained.

“The conference immersion experiences will likely result in increased sensitivity to the plight of others, and can inform attendees’ plans for improved moral judgments as they do their work in their respective fields,” he said.

One of those experiences will include conference participants’ exploration of and engagement with Tuskegee’s Legacy Museum, where the “HeLa Cell Exhibit” is on display. The HeLa Cell was grown from the cervical cancer cells of Henrietta Lacks, an African-American tobacco farmer who died in 1951. These immortal cells, initially harvested from Lacks without her knowledge or that of her family, still continue to play an integral part in the advancement of science and medicine today.

Attendees can also expect to gain a better understanding of how research on minority health and health disparities can be ethically conducted to eliminate disparities, with due attention to contextual issues, individual interest, and entrenched community values.

Currently, conference planners are inviting abstract submissions, which will be reviewed as potential oral and/or poster presentations. Interested individuals should submit research work that advances knowledge of bioethical issues in minority health and health disparities research and practice, and that may have policy implications. Selected manuscripts will be published in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.

The U54 Morehouse School of Medicine, Tuskegee University, UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center Partnership’s National Conference is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, and the presidents of the three partner institutions.

To register, submit abstract or upload manuscript, please visit:


© 2018, Tuskegee University