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Murphy co-recipient of Susan G. Komen grant to create training program in breast cancer disparities

Portions republished from The Arnold School of Public Health. Photo provided by The Arnold School of Public Health.

Angela Murphy, Ph.D, associate professor in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, was awarded a $405,000 Susan G. Komen grant, which will help establish the Interdisciplinary Graduate Training to Eliminate Cancer Disparities (IGniTE-CD) program.

The award was jointly awarded to Murphy and Susan Steck, Ph.D, associate professor in the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Arnold School of Public Health.

The program will support up to three doctoral students per year over the next three years. Training activities include lab/practice rotations, coursework, participation in seminars and journal clubs, abstract and manuscript submissions, and attendance at conferences and training events.

“Dr. Steck is an epidemiologist and I’m a basic scientist, so we complement each other. Students can get basic science training in my lab and epidemiology training from Dr. Steck,” says Murphy.

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women. It accounts for approximately one third of new cancer cases and is the second most common cause of cancer death among women. South Carolina has slightly higher incidence and mortality rates than the national average.

Significant disparities in this type of cancer can be found both in the United States and globally. African American women have about 40 percent higher risk of dying from breast cancer than white women. They are also more likely to be diagnosed at a younger age and with more advanced disease.

“Susan G. Komen has established a bold goal of reducing breast cancer deaths by 50 percent by the year 2026,” says Steck. “Addressing health disparities is an important way to have a major impact on death rates. Thus, the focus of Komen’s IGniTE-CD Program is to train the best and brightest young investigators to conduct research on breast cancer disparities. Our goal is to provide them with the knowledge and skills that they need in order to conduct meaningful research and become leaders in the field of breast cancer disparities.”

The program’s inaugural trainees are:

  • Johnie Hodge (MD/Ph.D. student, medicine; pictured left in photo above)
  • Pearman Parker Hayne (Ph.D. student, nursing; pictured right in photo above)
  • Omonefe Omofuma (Ph.D. student, epidemiology; pictured center in photo above)

“We are very excited about our three students who started this year. They are really, really outstanding: one from medicine, one from nursing and one from public health. They will bring complementary expertise from their respective disciplines allowing for inter-disciplinary training,” says Murphy.

The award is one of 98 new research grants to receive $30.7 million collectively from the breast cancer organization in 2017, and it is one of nine awards focusing on disparities in breast cancer outcomes (see press release for additional information).


October 11th, 2017