Grant aids cancer project

University of Florida’s College of Dentistry recently received a five-year grant for $5.3 million for a head and neck cancer research program due to collaborative efforts with Florida A&M University.

Funded by the National Institute of Health, the grant will help find preventive methods to minimize problems with head and neck cancer in minority men.

According to September’s edition of the National Cancer Institute’s “A Snapshot of Head and Neck Cancers,” nationally, whites have the highest rates of incidences and blacks have the highest mortality rates.

Henrietta Logan, organizer of the program and professor at the college, said she first contacted FAMU Provost, Cindy Hughes about the collaboration.

“FAMU played an important role in the design and planning phase in this project,” she said. “We would like to do some faculty exchanges in the future.”

Logan said originally, FAMU faculty members would exchange with UF to conduct research, but that portion of the budget was not funded by NIH.

However, Logan said that future participation in the Tallahassee areas will be necessary, and faculty at FAMU will be needed.

She also said there is a long-term goal to add oral screenings to the existing projects going on at FAMU.

“The northern part of Florida shows higher rates of head and neck cancer,” she said. “We would like to extend our projects as monies come available.”

Logan said FAMU faculty members would discuss the most effective ways to work in communities and find ways for more African-Americans to get screenings.

Dez’Aray Watkins, 18, a first-year biology student from Virginia, said the partnership efforts will be beneficial to students aspiring to go to medical school.

“This collaboration with UF is beneficial not only for FAMU, but for the students who plan to transfer to UF to study dentistry,” Watkins said. “This will definitely give FAMU students opportunities to share their knowledge and ideas about the research.”

Phoenicia Davis, 19, a first-year pharmacy student from Perry, Ga., said that FAMU’s contributions to allow more head and neck research is rewarding.

“It makes me feel proud,” she said. “Who knows what other major research my school will be involved in, maybe one day FAMU will partner to lead on projects to help with cancer in children.”

Logan said that UF submitted an application a year ago to receive the grant and received funding in September.