Theresa Gillespie an Investigator on Synergy and NCI-CGH Awards Teams

October 2016

The membership of Theresa Gillespie, PhD, MA, professor in the departments of surgery and hematology and oncology of Emory University, on two new multidisciplinary project teams, demonstrates her ongoing commitment to national and global health services research and improvement.

Dr. Gillespie is the principal investigator of "Advancing Cancer Screening and Early Detection Among People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA)," which received a Woodruff Health Sciences Center (WHSC) Synergy Award. By offering up to $100,000 for an award term of one year, Synergy Awards support collaborative projects among faculty across WHSC's Emory-based schools and centers. The awards may carry over to a second year under special circumstances.

The project team draws together faculty with expertise in oncology and HIV/AIDS, and includes co-principal investigator Jessica Wells, PhD, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing; Joseph Lipscomb, PhD, Health Policy and Management, Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH); Minh Nguyen, MD, MPH, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine; Saurabh Chawla, MD, Division of Digestive Diseases, Department of Medicine; and community partner Denise Ballard, MEd, of Horizons Community Solutions, an organization launched by the Cancer Coalition of South Georgia dedicated to health, wellness, and reducing disparities.

"Individuals who have a diagnosis of HIV are at increased risk for both AIDS-defining malignancies and AIDS-associated malignancies, and for cancer overall due to their immunocompromised state, treatment, and other factors," says Dr. Gillespie. "However, these same individuals participate in recommended cancer screening activities at far lower rates than those without HIV, and their cancer outcomes are also worse. The aims of this study are to investigate attitudes towards and practices of evidence-based cancer screening approaches by PLWHA in both rural and urban underserved settings."

Dr. Gillespie is also co-investigator of a project led by Michael Goodman, MD, MPH, associate professor of epidemiology, RSPH, which has received an NCI Center for Global Health (CGH) P20 Grant to plan and develop a Regional Center of Research Excellence (RCRE) in Non-Communicable Diseases in India. NCI CGH P20 grants are intended to help translate important research findings on prevention, control, and treatment of non-communicable diseases, especially cancer, from high income countries (HICs) into policy and practice changes in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) that often lack the resources and infrastructure to address these problems in a systematic fashion. RCREs are the organizational instruments that initiate and maintain partnerships for this purpose between HICs and LMICs.

For the India project, the LMIC partners, led by Dorairaj Prabhakaran, MD, DM, MSc, of the Public Health Foundation of India, will lead research efforts in India, while HIC partners Drs. Goodman, Gillespie, and other stateside team members will serve as collaborators, consultants, and/or mentors, in the process of planning and designing regional hubs to coordinate basic, translational, clinical, and population science research and training. The partners will pursue the P20 goal of establishing systems to support and expand existing and new collaborations between Emory and its India-based partners to build a country-wide population- and clinic-based RCRE infrastructure for addressing such non-communicable diseases as cancer and diabetes.

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