Our History

The following timeline outlines our Partnership since its inception:

1999: The Meharry-Vanderbilt Cancer Partnership was initiated between Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) and Meharry Medical College (MMC) by a supplement to the VICC Support Grant (CCSG).

  • At this time, the Center for Disease Control’s Office of Minority Health Disparities and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) launched several new initiatives to establish cancer research partnerships between NCI Cancer Centers (VICC) and Minority Serving Institutions (MMC).
  • These initiatives arose from the disturbing observation that, although minorities
    including African-Americans suffer a disproportionate burden of cancer deaths in this country, neither the cancer centers alone nor minority serving institutions had been able to address the problem.
  • The supplement grant provided about $0.68 million for 2 years, which supported:
    • the Oncology Clinic at MMC to begin the clinical trials program;
    • initial funds to develop 2 basic science pilot projects and 1 year of funding for
      3 pre-pilot basic science projects; and
    • meetings and retreats while developing the Partnership’s first U54 grant application

2001: The Partnership competed for one of the only two U54 Comprehensive Partnership Grants that were funded by the NCI in the United States at the time.

  • The 5-year grant strengthened MMC’s cancer research infrastructure
  • The oncology clinical trials at MMC established during this period significantly
    enhanced the recruitment of African Americans into national oncology trials,
    transforming the Robert Hardy Oncology Clinic into an Oncology Clinical Trials
  • The grant also successfully supported:
    • 3 basic science projects and 3 PhD students at MMC directly, as well as indirect support for 18 PhD students;
    • the development of strong basic science research in breast and prostate cancers;
    • the establishment of an Epidemiology/Biostatistics Core;
    • the acquisition of several collaborative grants, and
    • the establishment of the annual national cancer retreat

2006: The Partnership successfully competed for another five years of funding, which awarded Meharry $10 million through 2011.

  • Tennessee State University (TSU) joined the MVCP as a collaborator, expanding the
    partnerships research into Community Engaged Research.
  • Funding supported 2 basic science pilot projects, 4 community pilot research projects and 1 clinical pre-pilot project, as well as continued support for 3 PhD students and the oncology clinical trials.
  • During this period, the cancer tissue core was developed for the collection and storage of cancer tissues from African Americans and members of other racial/ethnic minorities.

2011: The Partnership competed for another five years of funding, which brought $16 million to the partnership, and added TSU as a full member of the partnership, creating the existing triad between MMC, VICC, and TSU.

  • TSU joined the partnership to effectively engage in community outreach program for cancer prevention and to increase undergraduate cancer research.
  • Funding supported 2 full projects and 2 pilot projects involving collaborators from all 3 partner institutions.
  • The education core extended cancer research training from the partnership institutions to include medical, doctoral, masters and undergraduate students

2016: The Partnership renewed the grant for another 5 years, becoming the only continuously funded U54 Cancer Partnership across the country.

  • Current funding supports 3 full projects and 1 pilot project addressing research questions related to cancer disparities
  • Continued expansion of the shared resources cores (Clinical Trials, Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, Translational Pathology) will allow the Partnership to achieve the main objectives, while the Planning and Evaluation Core provides the ability to track the Partnership’s progress
  • Cancer research training is being extended to high school students

This grant represents one of the very few U54s with a balanced focus on population science, basic research, and clinical research.