LSU Health New Orleans Newsroom

LSU Health Cancer Center Funded to Enhance Research Capacity at Tanzania’s Major Cancer Institute

April 27, 2022

Tanzania map

LSU Health New Orleans’ Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center has been awarded $1.5 million over five years to increase the number of trained cancer researchers in Tanzania and prepare them for the future of HIV-associated cancer diagnostics and research in cancer genomics and therapy. It will support the development of the Tanzania AIDS Malignancies Training and Research Program at the Ocean Road Center Cancer Institute (ORCI), the major cancer research institution in Tanzania. The funding was awarded by the National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Center, National Cancer Institute (under Award Number D43 TW012277) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

The project builds upon LSU Health New Orleans’ existing collaboration and will focus on research and training in molecular detection/diagnosis and quantifying the epidemiology and biology of the most common HIV-associated malignancies in Tanzania, especially those with infectious etiology.

The short-term goals are to enhance the ORCI cancer research and training infrastructure and institute a training and mentoring program for Tanzanians to conduct research on cancers that are commonly encountered at ORCI and LSU Health’s Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center.

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LSU Health New Orleans faculty will provide intensive academic instruction and research experience for a PhD and two Master’s degree candidates, along with one or two short-term trainees in a relevant HIV-associated cancer research field. They will spend up to six months at LSU Health New Orleans receiving education and technical training in four training tracks -- clinical trials methodologies and management, public health operational and translational research, laboratory-based cancer biology research, and cancer genomics and bioinformatics. Subjects include cancer prevention, biostatistics and data management, epidemiology, cancer registry, biobanking, molecular biology/virology, pathology, diagnostics, viral oncology, immunology, next-generation sequencing, data management, big data analytics, computational genomics, and translational research.
People infected with HIV have a substantially higher risk of some types of cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, compared with the general population, people infected with HIV are currently about 500 times more likely to be diagnosed with Kaposi sarcoma, 12 times more likely to be diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and among women, 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer. The risk of developing other cancers is also significantly higher for people living with HIV. In addition to being linked to an increased risk of cancer, HIV infection is associated with an increased risk of dying from cancer.

According to the Population-Based HIV Impact Assessment Project, Tanzania has been one of the countries at the epicenter of the HIV epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2019, the latest Tanzania HIV Impact Survey reported that 5% of people ages 15-64 In Tanzania were living with HIV. The two most common AIDS-associated cancers found in Tanzania are cervical cancer and Kaposi sarcoma.

Dr. Charles Wood
“The Tanzania AIDS Malignancies Training and Research Program will be critical in the preparation of Ocean Road Center Cancer Institute (and Tanzania) for the era of personalized and precision cancer medicine, which will utilize cancer genomics for cancer detection, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment,” notes Charles Wood, PhD, Professor of Interdisciplinary Oncology and the Director of the program at LSU Health New Orleans Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center. “It will provide important insight in the understanding and prevention of HIV-associated and non-HIV associated malignancies in Tanzania, and reciprocally, in the U.S.”

The LSU Health New Orleans Stanley S. Scott Center team began collaborating with Tanzania in 2014 with NCI U54 African Cancer Network (U54 CA190155) funding. The team implemented the Cancer Research International Training and Intervention Consortium (CRITIC), a foundational effort to build the Ocean Road Cancer Institute’s research capacity from near zero. CRITIC, which is now ending, completed the training of one PhD and three Master’s degree fellows and established the ORCI Molecular Virology and Pathology laboratories that can now be leveraged to support the Tanzania AIDS Malignancies Training and Research Program.

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