FAMU, UF join together on research grant

As guests began to enter the auditorium, Romonia Reams and Folakemi Odedina reviewed their notes and presentation about the NCI P20 grant and training program. Anticipation rose as guests filled the auditorium.

Reams, from Florida A&M University, and Odedina, from the University of Florida, came together and gave their presentations about the Florida Minority Cancer Research & Training Center. The two colleagues spoke to the interested patrons of the new pharmacy building auditorium.

The two colleagues teamed up with their respective universities to create the NCI P20 Partnership Planning Grant. The duo pitched the grant three times, the first being as early as 2011. Although it scored highly each time, it was denied. 

Having the drive to do what they set out to do is what kept the two going to continue to pitch the grant additional times. That old "third times a charm" turned out to be true for Reams and Odedina, and the duo was awarded the grant on Sept. 22, 2014.

 “We were elated to finally get the NCI P20 grant award,” Reams said.

NCI P20 was created so both Reams and Odedina can bring awareness, research and new methods to cure certain forms of cancer for current and future patients.

Odedina and Reams addressed the community engagement of this project several times. They said if they raise awareness on the importance of regular checkups, the community would begin to trust what they’re doing. 

Many professors from the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and nursing divisions were in attendance, eager to find out details of the grant and how it could affect the community, peers and students.

Together the two universities will create education opportunities, build research and aim to gain the community's trust. Ultimately, the two want to overcome cancer and health disparities, not only in the community but the world.

The focus of cancer for the grant will be, but is not limited to, prostate cancer. The team is willing to focus on other types of cancer. However, this particular cancer lacks funding and research in Florida.

“As being one of the members of the pilot project team, I hope to bring awareness and great research,” said Selina Darling Reed, a pharmacy professor at FAMU.

Each team at UF and FAMU has a principal investigator, along with a co-investigator, evaluator, mentor and advisers to come together to form the grant. The NCI P20 has grants in states such as Texas, New York and California, but this is the first in Florida.

“FAMU and UF are the best universities to collaborate on this research project, to increase more culturally responsive research within minorities,” Odedina said.

Five students from both universities will get the opportunity to attend a 12-week intensive training program with hands-on research in Gainesville, Florida, at UF. Preparation has been taking place for the past five summers.

Once completed, if the student does not enroll in graduate or medical school, he or she will get the opportunity to be in the one-year post-baccalaureate program. The program can be a bridge to future medical school aspirations and can be accepted into their medical school program.