Current U54 partnership Research


A multi-center epidemiologic study
on breast cancer in African-American women.

This is a full project between the three institutions. The principal investigators are Drs. Maureen Sanderson (MMC), Wei Zheng (VICC), and David Shen Miller (TSU). The specific aims of this project are to recruit, interview, and collect one thousand African-American breast cancer cases from Tennessee and South Carolina and to identify one thousand age-matched African-American controls from subjects recruited in the Southern Community Cohort Study (SCCS). Combined with the subjects from the Nashville Breast Health Study and the SCCS, investigators plan to have a total of three thousand African-American cases and three thousand African-American controls to complete the study. The first aim of the study is to evaluate approximately 21 GWAS-identified loci to discover genetic risk variants for the risk of breast cancer in African-American women. In the final aim of their study, they plan to establish a breast cancer risk assessment model for African-American women that incorporates clinical and genetic risk factors.

Molecular mechanisms of Skyp2 targeting in prostate cancer progression.
This is a full project between MMC and VICC and the principal investigators are Drs. Zhenbang Chen (MMC) and Robert Matusik (VICC). The Skyp2 gene encodes a signaling protein, which is believed to play a critical role in prostate cancer progression involving castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), which is extremely aggressive and spreads faster. However, the mechanism of Skyp2 in prostate cancer is not well understood and it is the focus of this project. The investigators will use various prostate cancer mouse models and human prostate cancer cell lines to unearth the mechanisms of Skyp2. The outcomes could lead to development of therapeutic agents, which can block or slow down prostate cancer progression in CRPC patients.

Increasing HPV vaccine utilization
among African-American girls through social marketing.

The principal investigators are Drs. Maureen Sanderson (MMC), Pam Hull (Vanderbilt), and Elizabeth Williams (TSU). This is a community-based participatory research (CBPR) pilot project between the three institutions and the community-based organizations and community members that serve on our Community Advisory Board (CAB). The main goal of this project is to develop and test the feasibility and impact of a culturally appropriate social marketing intervention targeting African-American girls and their parents to increase utilization of the HPV vaccine series. The outcomes could lead to development of an expanded study to involve large numbers of human subjects. Ultimately, the outcomes will lead to expansion of HPV vaccine utilization among African-American girls.