Prevention Resources

Approximately 40% of the Duncan Family Institute's portfolio investment is targeted towards research infrastructure, a critical but severely underfunded area essential for scientists to compete successfully for external funding from NIH, NCI and other peer-reviewed funding sources. The Institute has created or expanded four research resources to support cancer prevention and risk assessment studies. 

e-Health Technology

Co-directors: Alex Prokhorov, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Behavioral Science
                          Ludmila Cofta-Woerpel, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Behavioral                           Science

The e-Health Technology resource supports the development and implementation of multi-media and computer-aided intervention and assessment tools to be used in cancer research studies that address health information, health behavior change, symptoms, and quality of life. e-Health assessment and intervention platforms can be used to capture in real-time data from study participants rather than depend on their recall, and can support tailored and dynamic individual intervention study designs, personalizing prevention in the research "laboratory" with the potential to accelerate delivery of proven prevention strategies to the clinic and community. Led by Alex Prokhorov, M.D., Ph.D. and Ludmila Cofta-Woerpel, Ph.D., this new resource has established itself as the "go to" source for researchers who seek convenient access to cutting edge solutions and innovative tools that incorporate the use of PDAs, Smart phones, cell phones, iPads, and other mobile devices.

Mexican American Cohort

Co-directors: Wong-Ho Chow, Ph.D., Professor, Epidemiology
                          Hua Zhao, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Epidemiology
                          Carrie Daniel-MacDougall, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, 

Since the summer of 2001, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has been conducting a long-term health study of individuals of Mexican origin living in Harris county, Texas. This population is undergoing dramatic social change due to recent immigration and inter-generational acculturation with the construct of the family and community setting. By developing and sustaining this cohort of study participants, researchers are able to study the behavioral and genetic risk factors for cancer and intervention strategies to mitigate that risk for cancer-related morbidity and mortality among Mexican Americans. Teams of researchers enroll participants in the study, collect information about their date and place of birth, current home environment, familial and social support systems, economic and other resources, health status and family history of disease. As new research ideas emerge, study participants are invited to provide additional information, such as diet and smoking habits. Long-term population studies can extend forward for 40 years or more, providing important information on how factors including tobacco use, weight change, physical activity, exposure to chemicals, and many other factors influence health. With Duncan Family Institute funds, scientists are able to continue study participant recruitment and to do so at an accelerated pace, further expanding this resource and ensuring its ongoing viability as a "laboratory" for research studies in Mexican American population.

Center for Community-Engaged Translational Research

Co-directors: Lorna McNeill, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Health Disparities
                         David Wetter, Ph.D., Professor, Health Disparities Research

The Center for Community-Engaged Translational Research (CCETR) serves as a divisional and institutional resource focused on changing public health and clinical practice through the development, evaluation, implementation and dissemination of new interventions, diagnostic tests and prediction models in community and population-based settings. Investigators supported through CCETR's resources focus on three key aspects of translating cutting edge science and treatments into effective interventions that change real-world public health and clinical practice:

  • Community-based research
  • Implementation research
  • Dissemination research

CCETR comprises a research infrastructure as well as a service component for both researchers and communities. Successful community-based, implementation, and dissemination research requires that projects and activities benefit both the community and the researchers. CCETR serves both the research community and the community at large with an explicit goal of integrating research and service into existing community infrastructure and social norms.

Clinical Cancer Prevention Research Core

Co-directors: Powel Brown, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, Clinical Cancer Prevention
                         Therese Bevers, M.D., Professor, Clinical Cancer Prevention

The Cancer Prevention Center (CPC), MD Anderson’s cancer prevention clinic, is the clinical hub of the cancer prevention program, providing a comprehensive roster of evidence-based cancer screening and personalized cancer prevention services to healthy individuals, those at elevated risk for cancer and survivors who may be at risk for secondary cancers. The CPC is the setting for prevention clinical research studies and is supported with expertise from the Duncan Family Institute Clinical Cancer Prevention Research Core, which provides critical tools for clinical investigators who aim to offer future patients better options for cancer risk characterization and reduction.  

Future plans for the CPC include expansion of risk prediction tools and interventions, which include weight management, exercise, nutrition, complementary therapies, psychosocial and expanded tobacco cessation services all targeted to help patients participate in their own personal cancer prevention by modifying the behavior and lifestyle factors that put them at risk for cancer. Other areas targeted for further development are genetic testing and counseling; screenings using predictive markers in the blood, state-of-the-art imaging tools and other highly sophisticated technologies; the addition of endoscopy services for gastrointestinal screening (e.g., colonoscopy); and the extension of personalized cancer risk education to include programs focused on family risk.  As these plans mature, the Institute will recruit prevention physicians and scientists whose research will leverage this unique clinical setting and the co-located Behavioral Research and Treatment Center to further develop the evidence for understanding and reducing cancer risk and quickly translate findings to the clinic and the community.

Health Services Research Core Data Resource

Director: Sharon Giordano, M.D., M.P.H., Professor, Health Services Research

Health services research (HSR) is a multidisciplinary field that is growing rapidly due to increasing national attention to issues of health care cost, quality, and delivery.  According to the Coalition of Health Services Research, HSR is defined as “a field of scientific study that explores health care costs, quality, and access and looks for ways to improve health care delivery, safety, availability, and affordability.”  The importance of this field of research is due to the current realities that the US health care system is the most costly in the world, the cost of care is growing on an unsustainable trajectory, and yet significant gaps exist in health care quality and care coordination.

Large population-based datasets are one of the most important resources for studying health care delivery, economics of care, cost-effectiveness, quality of care, and outcomes.  The goal is to create a core data resource consisting of large datasets to promote HSR studies at MD Anderson. 

A multidisciplinary investigative team of faculty across four Divisions as been established, all of whom have expertise in using national datasets.  The team consists of investigators in Health Services Research (Giordano and Elting), Radiation Oncology (Smith), Surgical Oncology (Chang), and Internal Medicine (Suarez Almazor).