The Acres Homes Cancer Prevention Collaboration (Acres Homes CPC) is an MD Anderson-led initiative that seeks to reduce cancer risk and ultimately improve cancer outcomes in a historic neighborhood. It is one of five new centers for cancer control research created as part of the Persistent Poverty Initiative of the National Cancer Institute — the first major program to address the structural and institutional factors of persistent poverty in the context of cancer.
The Acres Homes CPC is implemented in the context of MD Anderson’s place-based cancer prevention approach, Be Well Communities™.
Goals of the Acres Homes Cancer Prevention Collaboration
- Test interventions addressing risk factors for obesity-related cancer in the context of Be Well™ Acres Homes
- Create a system for building evidence and using research insights to implement health programs
- Collaborate with residents and community organizations to foster an environment that supports participation in research and health programs
- Support early-career researchers from different personal and professional backgrounds
Five core groups work together to develop and implement all aspects of the Acres Homes CPC around two scientific themes:
- Understanding the social and environmental context of poverty
- Promoting changes to diet and physical activity
The Administrative Core provides leadership for the Acres Homes Cancer Prevention Collaboration, including planning, implementation, evaluation and communication support among cores and research projects, community partners and collaborating academic institutions. Additionally, the Administrative Core connects and integrates the Acres Homes CPC with the larger Persistent Poverty Initiative Network.
Ruth Rechis, Ph.D.
Miranda Baum, M.A.
Crystal Roberson, M.P.H.
Career Enhancement Core
The Career Enhancement Core coordinates recruitment, selection and training of high-performing early career scientists from any higher education institution to lead cancer prevention research in communities that have been marginalized. The paid fellowship program for graduate and postdoctoral students was designed to attract and retain promising early career researchers.
Cheryl Anderson, Ph.D.
There are two fellowship programs available:
Research and Methods Core
The Research and Methods Core provides comprehensive research expertise to all major research projects and pilot projects. They help scientists revise research questions, incorporate contextual variables and develop the right analytical tools to evaluate real-world programs.
Ruth Rechis, Ph.D.
Stephanie Nutt, M.A., M.P.A.
Minxing Chen, M.S.
Request services from the Research and Methods Core by completing this form.
The Developmental Core identifies, funds and facilitates projects to address barriers to cancer prevention in the context of social needs and persistent poverty. They also facilitate collaboration with the other funded centers in the network.
A request for applications (RFA) to identify and fund community-engaged research projects was announced in August 2023, and a new opportunity to apply for funding will be posted in spring 2024. Please see the prior RFA for more information about the type of funding that will be available in the spring.
The first round of pilot projects has been selected:
Partnering to prevent cancer and Alzheimer’s disease in midlife and older Black adults
- Aim 1: Quantitively assess modifiable risk factors for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRDs) among midlife and older adults residing in Acres Homes who are at increased risk for obesity-related cancers and ADRDs.
- Aim 2: Qualitatively understand multilevel barriers and preferences for physical activity, perceived risk of developing cancer and ADRD, and preferences for risk communication to inform the adaptation of Harmony & Health (HH), a yoga-based intervention, for midlife and older Black adults.
Principal Investigator: Scherezade K. Mama, Dr.P.H.
Community Partner: BakerRipley
Examining Culinary Medicine programming in Acres Homes using the Healthy Cooking Index (HCI)
- Aim 1: Evaluate the curricula of existing Be Well Acres Homes culinary medicine programs to determine alignment with HCI constructs.
- Aim 2: Conduct a quasi-experimental trial to examine baseline cooking habits and preliminary changes to home cooking practices and diet variables after participation in a culinary medicine class series, using the HCI score and qualitative interviews
Principal Investigator: Margaret Raber, Dr.P.H., M.P.H.
Community Partner: Beauty’s Garden and any interested nutrition education program in Acres Homes
Nourishing the community through Culinary Medicine: Cooking and nutrition education for the Acres Homes community
- Aim 1: Conduct a pilot study of the “Nourishing the Community through Culinary Medicine” program with patients at UT Physicians clinics serving Acres Homes to assess feasibility and preliminary efficacy.
- Aim 2: Explore participant experiences in the pilot study to explain findings and finalize protocol for a future application.
Principal Investigator: Natalia Heredia, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Community Partner: UT Physicians Victory and Greens
The Engagement Core works collaboratively with the Be Well Acres Homes Steering Committee to foster research collaborations. They implement a workforce development program to provide service-learning experiences for trainees and investigators. They also develop, test and disseminate evidence-based messaging to engage the community in cancer prevention research and health behavior change.
Ruth Rechis, Ph.D.
Haley Gardiner, M.P.H., C.H.E.S.
Jasmine Dailey, M.P.H., R.D., L.D., C.H.E.S.
Request services from the Engagement Core by completing this form.
Two research projects will be implemented to advance scientific knowledge in Acres Homes. They span the cancer control continuum from primary prevention to survivorship. The transdisciplinary approach used by the research projects will integrate behavioral science, implementation science, geospatial analytics and health communication.
Project leader: Shreela Sharma, Ph.D.
Research Project 1 will test the effect of a multi-component produce provision plus nutrition education intervention on BMI and metabolic health in Acres Homes elementary school students and their parents, by comparing Brighter Bites participants to families from schools on the waitlist on a variety of outcomes.
Active Living After Cancer
Project leader: Karen Basen-Engquist, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Research Project 2 will adapt the Active Living After Cancer program by connecting it to ongoing Be Well Acres Homes activities and programs. Cancer survivors from Acres Homes will be enrolled, and the study will test the effect of the adapted program on their physical activity, quality of life and physical functioning.
In collaboration with Acres Homes residents and community organizations, our team plans to bridge the gap between research and real-world practice through community-engaged approaches to address obesity — the second-leading preventable cause of cancer.