Institutional Alliances to Reduce Cancer Disparities in Chicago


A partnership formed between Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University sought to address well-documented cancer health disparities in Chicago by developing a collaborative research, training, and educational infrastructure between a minority-serving institution and a National Cancer Institute designated comprehensive cancer center. With a critical examination of partnership documentation and outputs, we describe the partnership’s community-engaged approaches, challenges, and lessons learned. Northeastern Illinois University and the Lurie Cancer Center engaged in a yearlong partnership-building phase, identified interdisciplinary research teams, formed a governance structure, and identified collective aims. Partnership outcomes included funded inter-institutional research projects, new curriculum, and an annual research trainee program. Significant challenges faced included uncertain fiscal climate, widespread turnover, and dissimilar institutional demands. Lessons learned from this minority serving institution and comprehensive cancer center partnership may be useful for bridging distinct academic communities in the pursuit of ameliorating health disparities.