Hampton University Center to Focus On
Breast and Prostate Cancer Research
Hampton University is planning the construction of a 64,000-square-foot Biomedical Research Center on the university campus. Funded by HU and a federal government agency, the state-of-the-art facility will be an interdisciplinary center for biomedical researchers from both HU and the local region.
HU’s Biomedical Research Center (BRC) will become the only campus institute specializing in breast, prostate and other cancer research targeting minorities. The Black community is currently in the midst of a critical health care emergency. While more than 200,000 women will be diagnosed this year with breast cancer, 40,000 of them will lose their battle with the disease. In addition, Black women are 33 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than any other ethnic group.
Meanwhile, African-American men are one and a half times more likely than White men to suffer from prostate cancer, the most common cancer in men in the United States.
As a historically Black college, HU is positioned to provide a standout environment for research leading to an eradication of such disparities. Eventually, the BRC will become a flagship for integrated and cutting-edge cancer research in Virginia and the City of Hampton.
The BRC will house the existing HU Center for Advanced Medical Instrumentation. Devices developed by this center have been successfully used for breast cancer localization and treatment in clinical trials. Additionally, the cancer imaging technology clustered within the proposed center will be established to utilize this unique research environment. This will serve as a magnet to attract talented researchers, particularly minority researchers, to Hampton University.
Additionally, the BRC will house researchers in biology, pharmacy and nursing, offering a genuine interdisciplinary center. Research from these departments include pharmacological developments for fighting cancer, biology research linking breast cancer to heavy metals found in cigarettes, and nursing research on behavioral factors affecting cancer patients.
The Biomedical Research Center will provide a venue for high technology and cutting-edge training for young African-American researchers. As reported by the American Institute of Physics Statistics in 2001, HU’s physics department graduated more than 70 percent of the African-American doctorates nationally. HU also has graduate programs in biology, pharmacy, nursing, chemistry, physical therapy and mathematics — all of which will have students active in cancer research as a part of the university’s multidisciplinary experience in cancer imaging technology.
“We see the power of an interdisciplinary team to attack this from all angles,” said Dr. Cynthia Keppel, associate professor of physics.
“Nursing can work with us to recruit patients or offer feedback on treatments. Biology can then develop ways to fight cancer. Then that knowledge can be used by pharmacy researchers to design drugs to battle the disease.”
“We don’t have a giant medical center on campus,” Keppel explained. “So we chose to focus our efforts on this. We have a pool of people experienced and interested in the issue. We’re trying to develop a strong level of expertise. We have a goal, a mission and it’s exciting.”
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