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New Institute Poised to Advance Global Cancer Research and Prevention

Cancer is a major public health threat and is the second leading cause of death worldwide. It touches everyone, everywhere, and its burden is expected to grow globally more than 60% by 2040, with certain populations bearing the disproportionate share of this growth.

One key issue in efforts to change this outlook has been the lack of a globally consistent way of doing cancer research. It’s extraordinarily difficult to transfer cancer research findings from one country to others across the globe. Each country has different populations, cultures and environments, research approaches, and regulatory systems.

To make global research more effective and methodologically consistent and to move the dial on worldwide cancer deaths, School of Public Health Mayo Professor Irina Stepanov has launched the Institute for Global Cancer Prevention Research. Her vision is supported by a collaboration of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Medical School, and Masonic Cancer Center.

Stepanov is an internationally recognized expert in tobacco carcinogenesis — the science of causes and mechanisms of cancer. She will lead the institute, working alongside a network of global partners and top researchers from across the University, including Medical School Professors Dorothy Hatsukami and Rahel Ghebre.

What fuels all of Stepanov’s work is the suffering cancer causes.

“Worldwide, we are making significant progress in treating cancer,” says Stepanov. “But even with treatments available, we have to make more progress in preventing cancer in the first place.”

The institute will focus on growing partnerships and research capacity, and the translation of research findings into prevention practices and policies. It has three initial focus areas — tobacco control, environmental causes of cancer, and infectious agents and cancer — and will target its efforts toward populations that bear the disproportionate burden of cancer, including low- and middle-income countries as well as local immigrant communities.

This new initiative will increase the University’s ability to prevent worldwide cancer and suffering. It will also attract top cancer prevention scholars and provide our students and researchers the opportunity to engage with global partners and more deeply understand effective cancer research practices.

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