DETROIT, Jan. 11, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and cancer is the second, with higher rates of diagnosis and death in metropolitan Detroit compared to the state of the Michigan and the nation. Diagnoses and deaths from these diseases are higher among African-Americans compared to other racial and ethnic groups.

In order to address these disparities, the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and Wayne State University are working together to engage community members to share input to enhance the direction of medical research to substantially improve health outcomes. The institutions will present the inaugural Community-Engaged Research (CEnR) Symposium: Building Community-Engaged Networks to Eliminate Disparities in Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease. The all-day symposium will take place Monday, Feb. 5, 11:30 a.m. – 8 p.m., at the Karmanos Cancer Institute, in Detroit.

WHAT: 2018 Community-Engaged Research Symposium: Building Community-Engaged Networks to Eliminate Disparities in Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease
  Presented by the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and Wayne State University
WHEN: Monday, Feb. 5
  11:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
WHERE: Karmanos Cancer Institute
  4100 John R, Detroit, Mich., 48201 (Enter through main entrance off John R.)
  Wertz Auditorium on 2nd Floor
REGISTER: Space is limited. Registration is required by Jan. 31. Call 313-576-8259 for additional information regarding the symposium and parking availability.

Who Should Attend? Community members, stakeholders, researchers and academic representatives.

SPEAKERS:    In order of appearance: Hayley Thompson, Ph.D., program leader, Population Studies & Disparities Research, Karmanos Cancer Institute, and associate professor, Department of Oncology, Wayne State University; Phillip Levy, M.D., Edward S. Thomas Endowed Professor of Emergency Medicine, assistant vice president, Translational Science and Clinical Research Innovation, Wayne State University; Stephen M. Lanier, Ph.D., vice president for Research, Wayne State University; Al Richmond, MSW,  executive director, Community Campus Partnerships for Health; Sean Collins, M.D., professor and vice chairman for Research, and director, Clinical Trials Center, Department of Emergency Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine; Gerold Bepler, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO, Karmanos Cancer Institute, and chair, Department of Oncology, Wayne State University School of Medicine; Yasmeen Long, MA, program officer, Eugene Washington Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute; and Kristi Graves, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Oncology, Population Sciences, Georgetown University.

Panelists will include: Tiffany Brent, Esq., executive director, Voices of Detroit Initiative; Lisa Braddix, MPH, director, Population Health & Health Equity, Greater Detroit Area Health Council; Curtis Lipscomb, executive director, LGBT Detroit; Carrie Leach, Ph.D. candidate, MPA, research associate, Institute of Gerontology and Center for Urban Responses to Environmental Stressors, Wayne State University; and Elisabeth Heath, M.D., FACP, associate center director, Translational Sciences, Karmanos Cancer Institute and professor of Oncology and Medicine, Hartmann Endowed Chair for Prostate Cancer Research, Wayne State University.

Academic research has played a critical role in reducing disease burden in diverse populations. However, cardiovascular disease and cancer remain intractable public health problems – an occurrence that may be attributable to inadequate consideration of biosocial factors. Syndemics (the aggregation of two or more concurrent or sequential epidemics/disease clusters in a population) provides a conceptual model of how diseases and biosocial influences interact to synergistically enhance risk for a given population.

“African-Americans have historically struggled with structural and interpersonal racism, and disproportionately live in stressful and adverse conditions linked to racial group membership, including poverty, violence, stigmatization and discrimination,” said Hayley Thompson, Ph.D. “By inviting community members, stakeholders, and researchers and academic representatives to this symposium, we hope that the sharing of voices, experiences and expertise’s will start the community-engaged process to identify and address cardiovascular and cancer issues affecting well-being or our communities.”

This one-day symposium will provide opportunities to learn about and discuss the benefits gained from CEnR, as well as its challenges and strategies for conducting successful research. In addition, the symposium will provide an opportunity to learn from and network with community members who have identified research priorities for their communities. Topics that will be addressed include:

  • How does community engagement contribute to stronger science?
  • What are successful models of community-engaged scholarship that academic researchers can follow?
  • How can academic institutions support community-engaged scholarship among faculty?
  • How does industry view the role of community members in clinical trials?
  • What are the cardiovascular disease- and cancer-related research priorities within Detroit communities?
  • What kinds of local opportunities are there for community-engaged research related to cancer and cardiovascular disease?

This inaugural meeting is supported by the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute’s Population Studies and Disparities Research Program, and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute; and Wayne State University’s Office of the Assistant Vice President of Translational Science and Clinical Research Innovation.

About the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute
Karmanos Cancer Institute is headquartered in Detroit, with 14 locations throughout Michigan. As part of McLaren, Karmanos is the largest cancer care and research network in the state. It is among the nation’s best cancer centers as one of the National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the United States and the only one located in metro Detroit. Karmanos cancer experts focus solely on cancer to prevent, detect and treat as well as eradicate all forms of cancer. Its long-term partnership with the Wayne State University School of Medicine enhances the collaboration of critical research and academics related to cancer care. For more information, call 1-800-KARMANOS (800-527-6266) or visit Follow Karmanos on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

About Wayne State University
Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit

MEDIA CONTACT: Patricia Ellis, 313-576-8629

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at