Press Releases

2006 Releases

Roxbury Community Coalition and Harvard School of Public Health Receive Funding to Encourage Participation of Minority Groups in Cancer Clinical Trials

For immediate release: February 13, 2006  

Boston, MA Cherishing Our Hearts and Souls (COHS), a Roxbury-based community-centered coalition affiliated with the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), has received funding from the Education Network to Advance Cancer Clinical Trials (ENACCT) and the network's founding partner, the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF), to implement a community-wide effort to raise public awareness and improve access to cancer clinical trials.

COHS is one of three community organizations that will receive Pilot Education Program grants. Funding will be disbursed over the next three years. The other two programs are The Cross Cultural Collaborative of Pierce County, Tacoma, Wash. and the Decatur Community Partnership, Decatur, Ill.

COHS will seek to address the issue of community literacy around cancer clinical trials -- working to change knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and intention among both health care providers and community leaders -- to ultimately enhance access and increase participation in clinical trials.

Said principal investigator and director of the COHS coalition Brian K. Gibbs, PhD, instructor, Department of Health Policy and Management at HSPH: "Despite the overwhelming presence of medical and research institutions of prestigious acclaim, Roxbury, like many urban African-American and poor neighborhoods across the country, experiences higher death rates from cancer and other diseases that are preventable; where people of color don’t live as long and, regrettably, do not experience the same quality of life once diagnosed with a terminal disease. Through this funding and the strengthening of our partnerships, we will dispel certain historical myths about cancer and combine present-day knowledge about cancer clinical trials with our power to make individual, institutional, and community-level changes."

In collaboration with ENACCT, COHS will engage in the "Breaking It Down: Our Health Our Way" project, a three-year training and social marketing project to 1) increase Roxbury residents’ knowledge of cancer clinical trials, 2) reduce fear and mistrust of research, and 3) work with other ENACCT-PEP sites to develop models for increasing under-represented populations in cancer clinical trials.

The partnership includes Roxbury residents, community volunteers, community-based organizations including the Roxbury Community Research Advisory Board, Prostate Health Education Network, National Black Leadership Initiative on Cancer Greater Boston Chapter, Black Women’s Health Institute, Inc., Black Ministerial Alliance, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, From Roots to Wings, Inc., United Negro College Fund, and five local community health centers including Codman, Harvard Street, Mattapan, RoxComp, and Whittier Street.

"What we learn from COHS’ innovative partnership will help provide better informed and more effective practices for clinical trial education that are replicable and grounded in 'real-world' experience," said Margo Michaels, executive director of ENACCT. "Innovative approaches such as these can help reduce the gaps in clinical trial access and accrual."

According to the National Cancer Institute, three percent of all adult cancer patients participate in clinical trials. Several national studies have shown that most people with cancer are unaware that participation in clinical trials is a treatment option. Raising the percentages of individuals enrolled in cancer clinical trials will help advance testing, improve effectiveness and potentially accelerate access to new treatments.

"Despite a number of national and local initiatives attempting to address barriers to clinical trials, none have adequately addressed perhaps the most critical need -- helping local communities learn about trials and addressing local barriers to access," said Mitch Stoller, president and chief executive officer of the LAF. "The Lance Armstrong Foundation is pleased to be working with ENACCT and COHS on this unique effort."

Harvard School of Public Health
677 Huntington Avenue Boston, MA 02115
Christina Roache
(617) 432-6052<>

Margo Michaels
(301) 562-2774<>

ABOUT CHERISHING OUR HEARTS AND SOULS COALITION Cherishing Our Hearts and Souls Coalition (COHS) is a five-year-old coalition with a mission to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities through social transformation strategies. COHS is grounded in 15 plus years of HSPH-Roxbury partnerships, including a 1997 Roxbury Healthy Heart Survey and 25 years of violence prevention activities. COHS uses strategies both to reduce customary risk factors (hypertension, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, obesity and smoking) and also specific efforts to address racism and other social and environmental injustices. The establishment of the coalition was achieved through CBPR combined with mobilization of the community to understand, identify, and address the impact of racism on health. From these origins the coalition sustained itself during a period of no funding, continued to grow and is now a part of an NIH EXPORT Center addressing racial and ethnic health disparities.

ABOUT ENACCT The Education Network to Advance Cancer Clinical Trials' (ENACCT) is the only national organization devoted solely to implementing and evaluating clinical trial educational efforts. Its mission is to identify, implement and validate innovative approaches to cancer clinical trials education, outreach, and recruitment to improve outcomes for all. ENACCT:
provides services that enhance the capacity of organizations conducting clinical trials outreach, education and recruitment;
supports organizations in their efforts to reduce specific structural barriers to clinical trial recruitment;
supports the development of programs that enhance community literacy about clinical trials;
serves as a national clearinghouse for effective clinical trials education practices For more information, please visit

ABOUT THE LANCE ARMSTRONG FOUNDATION The Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) inspires and empowers people affected by cancer. We help people with cancer focus on living; we believe that unity is strength, knowledge is power and attitude is everything. From the moment of diagnosis, the LAF provides the practical information and tools people with cancer need to live life on their own terms. The LAF serves its mission through advocacy, public health and research. Founded in 1997 by cancer survivor and champion cyclist Lance Armstrong, the LAF is located in Austin, Texas. For more information, visit