Surgery

The following programs/research are currently under way in the Department of Surgery in the School of Medicine at Meharry Medical College.

Prostate cancer education and screening pilot program for African Americans
Researcher:
Flora Ukoli, M.D., M.P.H.
Funding Source: National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Project Summary: African-American men bear an unequal burden for prostate cancer (PCa) compared to other ethnic and racial groups. Dr. Ukoli hopes to reduce this burden by improving PCa knowledge and encouraging informed screening decisions among low-income African-American men.


Prostate cancer research training in health disparities for minority undergraduates
Researcher: Flora Ukoli, M.D., M.P.H.
Funding Source: Department of Defense (DOD)
Project Summary: African-American men have the highest prostate cancer (PCa) incidence in the world and their mortality rate is approximately 2-fold higher than that for American whites. The need to build a formidable team of multidisciplinary researchers that cut across ethnic and generational groups cannot be over emphasized. Pre-doctoral and post-doctoral programs are limited to large universities and may not be accessible to undergraduates from small colleges and HBCUs because of their highly competitive nature. The aim of Dr. Ukoli's program is to identify enthusiastic, intelligent, and talented HBCU undergraduates  at  Fisk  University  in  Nashville and  pair  them  with  role  model research faculty at Meharry and Vanderbilt University to undergo an exciting summer research training program and thereby attract them to careers in PCa disparity research.


 

Rapid weight gain prevention in African American infants
Researcher
: Flora Ukoli, M.D., M.P.H.
Funding Source: Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
Project Summary: Childhood obesity disproportionately affects low-income minority children. Up to 25 percent of U.S. pre-school children are overweight. Rapid weight gain (RWG) in the first year of life, an important predictor of childhood obesity, can be prevented by healthy infant feeding patterns that include exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) for 6 months, breastfeeding up till the second birthday, and restriction of high-calorie beverages. The goal of this study is to prepare mothers to prevent childhood obesity through an education intervention that will help mothers to make healthy infant feeding choices and adopt proper breastfeeding practices. This project is significant as it addresses two important public health concerns, childhood obesity prevention and breastfeeding practices, both of which are in line with the mission of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. These health issues are extremely relevant in the state of Tennessee because the state records one of the highest obesity rates and one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the nation, particularly among African-Americans.  The most vulnerable infants are those born to low-income, low-educated and young mothers. This is a pre-test post-test non-randomized intervention that will utilize the Community-Based Participatory Research approach to develop a culturally appropriate childhood obesity prevention education intervention in partnership with a community advisory board of lay African-American mothers in Nashville.


Meharry-John Hopkins center for prostate cancer research
Researcher:
Flora Ukoli, M.D., M.P.H.
Funding Source: Department of Defense (DOD)
Project Summary: The burden associated with prostate cancers falls disproportionately on African American men. The prostate cancer incidence rate among African American men is 55 percent greater than that of Caucasian men, and according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) state cancer profiles, the mortality rate is almost three time that of Caucasian men (73.9 per 100,000 African American/25.6 per 100,000 Caucasian). Genetic and dietary factors have been identified in explaining a portion of the excess burden experienced by African American men, yet we have been unable to identify risk factors that are both of substantial magnitude and amenable to preventive intervention. This study will combine qualitative and quantitative research techniques to assess the knowledge, attitudes, and preventive practices of adult sons ("sons") of men with prostate cancer ("fathers"). It will be conducted in parallel with the examination of men with prostate cancer (The Fathers Study”), the goals of which are (1) to investigate the effects of race, economic status, and psycho-social factors on the quality of life of men diagnosed with prostate cancer; (2) to investigate psycho-social factors that influence help seeking behavior among men who were diagnosed with prostate cancer; and (3) to examine the effects of informed decision-making and knowledge on prostate cancer treatment decision-making. The Principal Investigator for the project is Dr. Thomas LaVeist of Johns Hopkins University and Meharry’s Dr. Flora Ukoli is the Co-Principal Investigator.


Community partnership to reduce the diabetes/obesity burden among African American women in Nashville, Tenn. (MeTRC)
Researcher
: Stephania T. Miller-Hughes, Ph.D
Funding Source: National Center for Research Resources (NCRR)
Project Summary: Working with Mt. Zion Baptist Church and the Full Circle Healthy Community Coalition, this project plans to test a peer-support technique to help women with very little time for themselves better manage their weight and Type 2 diabetes.