News Center for Community Health Partnership & Research

Center collaborates with Siteman Cancer Center for Pitch Partners event on cancer research

When it comes to cancer, today’s research is tomorrow’s treatment.

Sarah Chavez, PhD, senior scientist at Community Outreach and Engagement (COE) at Siteman Cancer Center and Washington University School of Medicine; chair-elect of the Missouri Cancer Consortium

The Center for Community Health Partnership and Research and Siteman Cancer Center are collaborating on an April 21 Pitch Partners event to focus on the importance of cancer research. At Pitch Partners, community members, organizations, researchers and faculty teams present a five-minute “pitch” around health-related projects (in this case, projects involving cancer-related research). At the event, pitch teams identify potential partners and receive critical feedback. The session includes a Q&A with a panel of experts and open dialogue with the audience. Select teams are invited to apply for a $10,000 award.

Event collaborator, and Senior Scientist, Sarah Chavez, PhD, helps monitor clinical trials and research programs to ensure that they meet the needs of the community. One example of her work began 15 years ago with a project to develop a vaccine for triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive cancer found to be most prevalent in young, Black women. Chavez says that vaccine project evolved into one of Siteman’s current clinical trials: a vaccine for patients with triple negative breast cancer that decreases the risk of recurrence. “Although that project seems like a lifetime ago to me, it is helping women in our community NOW.” She adds, “Research is a marathon, not a sprint.”

When it comes to cancer prevention and screening, Chavez says there are significant disparities. “Unfortunately, not everyone has the same access to opportunities for screening and treatment,” she says. Do patients know the current screening recommendations? Do they have insurance or a doctor to help them schedule a screening? Do they have a ride to the appointment? If they receive a positive cancer diagnosis, do they have a support system ready to navigate through various treatment programs?

Chavez continues, “Our success depends on our ability to develop strong, meaningful partnerships in the communities we serve, so we need to hear from community voices like those presenting and attending Pitch Partners. What are the concerns you have regarding the cancer care continuum? How is your organization serving specific needs and trying to fill these gaps in care? Ultimately, how can we develop a partnership where COE can support your efforts and learn how to be more responsive to the needs of our community members? You are the ‘boots on the ground’, so to speak, so we want to hear from you about how we can address cancer disparities in our communities through implementing new and exciting programs and partnerships.”

Cancer affects us all, but to fully support cancer patients through all stages of their journey, it also takes a village.”

Sarah Chavez

Read more about how to attend the April 21 event. Advance registration is required.

Additional event facilitators are Bettina F. Drake, PhD, MPH, professor in the Division of Public Health Sciences at the School of Medicine and associate director of Community Outreach and Engagement at Siteman Cancer Center. This Pitch Partners event is sponsored by the Center for Community Health Partnership and Research at the Institute for Public Health and the Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences and the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University Medical School.