The University of Kansas Cancer Center's Cancer Control and Population Health program got a boost in April when Won Choi, Ph.D., and his colleagues were awarded a $2.7 million, five-year NCI grant to create an Internet-based program to help American Indian tribal college students stop smoking.
Dr. Choi's new project builds on a long history of successful research efforts in Native communities. In 2010, the medical center was awarded a $7.5 million National Institutes of Health grant to launch the Center for American Indian Community Health, led by Christine Daley, Ph.D., to address the enormous health disparities common among American Indians.
"American Indians suffer from the greatest health disparities," Dr. Choi notes. "You name the disease, they have the worst prevalence compared to other racial or ethnic groups. They have the highest rates of obesity and diabetes, and the highest rates of smoking, which is my particular area of interest."
KU researchers in the Center for American Indian Community Health enjoy a strong relationship with the tribes in Kansas as well as Haskell Indian Nations University, whose students represent more than 250 tribes throughout the country. Initially, Dr. Choi says, collaborations with Haskell led to All Nations Breath of Life, a culturally tailored program designed to help American Indians stop smoking while respecting their traditions involving tobacco - a program that's showing remarkable success.
"Our intent was to develop a program for adult to middle-aged and older American Indian smokers not just from our region but throughout the country," Dr. Choi says. The work at Haskell led to other projects allowing Drs. Choi and Daley to gather information on tribal college students' health behaviors, such as fruit, vegetable and alcohol consumption and tobacco use. With the new NCI funding, Dr. Choi says, they will begin developing the culturally tailored smoking-cessation program specifically for tribal college students and their online environments. "The first year will deal with fine-tuning the intervention - we'll conduct focus groups and do qualitative studies and integrate ideas recommended by the potential participants," he says.
It's just one example of The University of Kansas Cancer Center's wide expertise in Cancer Control and Population Health.