Written by Kristen Steiner
Charles R. Rogers, PhD, MPH, MS, CHES®, tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine and Huntsman Cancer Institute member at the University of Utah, recently received a K01 Mentored Research Scientist Development Award to Promote Diversity from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for nearly $900,000 for five years of research and training.
His K01 project titled, “Developing a Barbershop-Based Trial on Masculinity Barriers to Care and Colorectal Cancer Screening Uptake among African-American Men using a Mixed Methods Approach,” will allow Rogers and his colleagues to develop and pilot a theory-driven, culture-specific intervention that specifically targets masculinity barriers to care and colorectal cancer (CRC) uptake among African-American men.
On his way to get an extra set of keys to his office, Dr. Rogers was stopped by a colleague and informed of his notice of award. He had not received the notice himself yet because of the timing and several channels it had to go through.
“I was in total shock,” Dr. Rogers said. “You work so hard for a long time and you do not typically get awarded a NIH-level grant on the first submission, so it took a while for it to really hit me.”
The idea for the grant began in 2014 during Dr. Rogers’ NCI-funded post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. Dr. Rogers and his research team conducted a systematic review of the literature, specifically focusing on the relationship between CRC screening completion, racism, and masculinity among African-American. They found a very large gap in the areas of both racism and masculinity.
As an African-American man, Dr. Rogers had never heard about colon cancer and preventive screenings growing up, but became more aware of and interested in it as his aunt was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in the fall of 2009. After more research, he learned that huge disparities in CRC incidence and mortality exist for African-American men versus white men. For instance, African-American men have a 52 percent higher chance of dying from CRC compared to white men.
“I began writing the K01 grant proposal in July 2017 and worked faithfully until the Friday before Super Bowl LII in February 2018,” Dr. Rogers said. “I am still digesting it all, but now that I have it, it’s time to get to work!”
Next steps include training his two graduate students to do community-engaged research, finding individuals in the community to engage in surveys and focus groups, continuing to network and make connections here in Utah, and as Rogers states, “hit the ground running.”
This study uniquely contributes to the cancer health disparities field by 1) leading to the development of a culture-specific scale for assessing masculinity barriers to care relative to CRC screening uptake among African-American men that could be tailored for screening of other cancers disproportionately burdening African-American men (e.g., prostate cancer), 2) enhancing our understanding of the association between masculinity barriers to care, psychosocial factors, and CRC screening completion among African-American men, and 3) produce pilot data for a R01-level, culture-specific intervention to increase CRC screening uptake among African-American men.
Dr. Rogers’ mentors on this award include Dr. Kola Okuyemi, Dr. Electra Paskett, Dr. Man Hung, Dr. Susan Zickmund, Dr. Michael Fetters, and Dr. Roland Thorpe. This training plan and research study also received invaluable developmental support from RISE-PRIDE, the NRMN, UM-MMP, Cancer Disparities Research Network/GMaP Region 4, Dr. Jared Jobe, among many others.
We also want to extend thanks to the Health Equity Leadership Institute who provided information for this article.
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