Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
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Lurie Cancer Center Receives $4 Million NCI Grant to Study HIV-Associated Cancers in Nigeria

hou-murphyRobert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University has been awarded a $4.1 million five-year U54 grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to establish a consortium, conducted as a partnership with the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine in the U.S., and the University of Lagos and University of Jos in Nigeria.

Led by Lifang Hou, MD, PhD, Chief of Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Director of Global Health at the Lurie Cancer Center, and Robert Murphy, MD, Director of the Center for Global Health within the Institute for Public Health and Medicine, the John Philip Phair Professor of Infectious Diseases at Feinberg and a member of the Lurie Cancer Center, the consortium will focus on two high priority HIV-associated cancers in Nigeria: hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and cervical cancer.

The award is coordinated by the NCI Office of HIV and AIDS Malignancy, in collaboration with the Fogarty International Center, to support research aimed at identifying DNA methylation signatures and other biomarkers specific to HIV-associated HCC and cervical cancer. The study will enhance understanding of the role played by HIV infection and in turn, may lead to better strategies for the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of these HIV-associated cancers in Nigeria and other parts of the world with a high HIV burden. “We have been working with our Nigerian partner institutions for 16 years,” said Murphy. “Developing their research capacity to perform this critical work may now lead to earlier diagnosis and improved survival of these deadly cancers.”

The consortium will provide training and mentoring opportunities for Nigerian investigators conducting molecular epidemiology studies and establish two shared core facilities; one core dedicated to biomedical informatics and statistics, and the other focused on pathology and genomics. “This cooperative agreement provides an exceptional opportunity to leverage our existing expertise and expand that effort at two of the leading medical universities in Nigeria,” said Hou. “Our results will provide useful and novel information about HIV-associated cancer prevention and treatment most relevant to low- and middle-income countries.”

Research described in this release is supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Fogarty International Center (FIC) of the National Institutes of Health under grant number U54CA221205.