The Comprehensive Cancer Center established the Office of Community Engagement and Cancer Health Equity (OCECHE) in 2010 as part of a renewed and expanded commitment to serve local communities through research, education and outreach programs.
Mission: The mission of the OCECHE is to serve as a bridge between the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center and academic and community stakeholders to promote equitable collaboration and eliminate cancer disparities through community capacity building, participatory research, advocacy and innovative education and training.
Vision: We seek to work with key stakeholders and community members who are dedicated to improving the health and well-being of their local communities with regards to cancer prevention and risk reduction, access to quality cancer care, promoting community centered collaborative research and supporting those at risk or living with a cancer diagnosis.
The OCECHE, under the direction of Karen Kim, MD, has formed strategic alliances with UChicago units and other healthcare organizations, as well as community, ethnic, and faith-based groups to create innovative programs that will increase access to care, reduce risk factors for cancer, reduce tobacco use, increase participation in cancer research and improve the quality of life for cancer patients and survivors.
Dr. Kim was joined by Nita Lee, MD, in 2015 as Faculty Director to help continue the expansion of community outreach and efforts.
The Comprehensive Cancer Center has a global presence, attracting cancer patients from around the world; however, our most important commitment is to the people of the Chicago metropolitan area and, particularly, the residents of surrounding neighborhoods including Bronzeville, Grand Boulevard, Hyde Park, Kenwood, Washington Park and Woodlawn. Maintaining a vibrant, two-way conversation with our South Side neighbors helps Comprehensive Cancer Center members better understand and meet patient needs.
Karen E Kim, MD, MS
Professor of Medicine
Dean for Faculty Affairs
Director, Center for Asian Health Equity
Associate Director for Community Outreach and Engagement
Nita Karnik Lee, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Section of Gynecologic Oncology
Faculty Director for Community Outreach and Engagement
Gina Curry, MPH, MBA
Director, Office of Community Engagement and Cancer Health Equity
Alia Poulos, MA, MPP
Education Outreach Specialist, Office of Community Engagement and Cancer Health Equity
Helen Lam, PhD, RN
Lead Community Health Educator, Office of Community Engagement and Cancer Health Equity
The OCECHE has developed programming through robust partner engagement and capacity building, advocacy, education, and research activities in Chicago’s black, Asian and Latinx communities.
Signature OCECHE programs and examples of collaborative community work include:
OCECHE staff lead efforts in the local African-American and Asian communities to disseminate NCI culturally-tailored education materials promoting cancer screening and early detection, clinical trial and biobanking participation. The Community Health Educators (CHEs) develop and foster meaningful collaborative relationships with many community- and faith-based organizations which can positively impact vulnerable community members.
OCECHE is an active participant in the National Cancer Institute’s Screen to Save program. Through Screen to Save, community health educators funded by the NCI’s National Outreach Network (NON) provide culturally-tailored, evidence-based education and resources on colorectal cancer screening, HPV vaccination, and clinical trials participation within racially and ethnically diverse and rural communities nationwide.
OCECHE brings cancer expertise to the community through culturally-tailored, evidence-based community cancer education sessions. Our topics are wide-ranging and we can accommodate small and large groups virtually, onsite at community locations or at the UChicago Hyde Park campus. Our community cancer education session offerings include:
- COVID-19 and Cancer Care
- Cancer and Nutrition
- Cancer Survivorship and Support
- Breast Cancer Screening
- Cervical Cancer Screening and Early Detection
- Tobacco Cessation
Are you interested in a topic related to cancer prevention, care or survivorship that’s not listed above? We may be able to tailor a cancer education session to meet the unique needs of your group; please contact us to coordinate.
The only bilingual formalized cancer survivorship support group for Chinese-speaking cancer survivors and caregivers, meeting the needs of this vulnerable immigrant community with a known high burden of gastrointestinal and lung cancer.
For more information, contact Helen Lam at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The OCECHE team members continue to play an important role in education and recruitment within diverse communities about the importance of participation and representation in the national All of Us research program. Please visit the Illinois Precision Medicine Consortium website for additional information.
The Office of Community Engagement and Cancer Health Equity (OCECHE) fosters strategic alliances with healthcare groups, as well as community, ethnic, and faith-based organizations, to increase cancer knowledge in the community and engage participation in research and clinical trials. These organizations can be important social anchors in many communities, offering unique opportunities to reach underserved populations.
Listed below is a sampling of the strategic partnerships that the OCECHE maintains:
- American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
- American Cancer Society
- Apostolic Church of God
- Asian Health Coalition
- Calvary Baptist Church
- Carolyn Y. Adams Breast Cancer Foundation
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Centro Comunitario Juan Diego
- Chicago Department of Public Health
- Chicago Family Health Center
- Chicago Hispanic Health Coalition
- Chicago Public Schools
- Chicago State University
- Chinese American Service League
- Illinois Cancer Partnership
- Illinois Department of Public Health
- Greater Roseland Breast Health Consortium
- Matters at Heart
- Mercy Hospital & Medical Center
- Metropolitan Asian Family Services
- Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force
- Mission of Faith Baptist Church
- Muslim Women Resource Center
- New Beginnings Church of Chicago
- Northwestern University
- Partnership for Healthier Asians (PHA)
- Project Brotherhood
- The New Roseland Community Hospital
- Rush University
- Sisters Working It Out
- South Side Health Collaborative (SSHC)
- The Center for Faith and Community Health Transformation
- Trinity United Church of Christ
- University of Illinois Cancer Center
- University of Chicago Medicine Urban Health Initiative
- Zeta Phi Beta Sorority