UND to host cancer research symposium for DaCCoTA group June 8

The University of North Dakota (UND) School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS) is proud to present the first annual DaCCoTA Symposium, to be held at the SMHS (1301 N. Columbia Rd., Grand Forks, N.D.) from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 8, 2019.

In 2018, UND was awarded a $20.3 million clinical and translational research grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to work with researchers and medical providers in the Dakotas, including North Dakota State University, the University of South Dakota, Sanford Health, and other hospital systems throughout the region to better understand cancer and its causes, and to develop effective treatments for the disease.

Led by the SMHS, the Dakota Cancer Collaborative on Translational Activity (DaCCoTA) was thus born. The multi-institution team expects to use clinical research methods to study the link between cancer and the environment and pave the way to develop unique ways to combat cancer in the Dakotas. This first annual DaCCoTA symposium will focus on increasing our region’s capacity for clinical and translational cancer research.

“Our team’s goal is to develop a highly productive, collaborative and sustainable translational research center that will focus on the cancers that most commonly and disproportionately afflict the citizens of our region, especially American Indians,” said Marc Basson, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., principal investigator for the grant; senior associate dean for medicine and research; and a professor of surgery, biomedical sciences, and pathology at the UND SMHS. “This interdisciplinary symposium marks the first of what we hope is many gatherings of physicians and researchers in the region dedicated to this problem.”

Cancer is the leading cause of death for people ages 35-64 in the Dakotas. Half of men and a third of women who die within this age range have been diagnosed with cancer. Incidence of certain cancers are nearly double for American Indians, relative to the rest of the population.

“Cancer is rapidly overtaking heart disease and stroke as the leading cause of death in the U.S., and this collaborative effort will help to stem that unfortunate trend,” commented Joshua Wynne, M.D., M.B.A., M.P.H., vice president for Health Affairs at UND and dean of the SMHS. “This symposium is exactly the sort of thing we were hoping to do with this grant—bring together the leading educational and health care delivery organizations in the region along with their outstanding researchers and providers to form a consortium that will reduce cancer risk through better understanding and improved therapies.”

At the symposium, Wisconsin-based Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research (CIMER) will provide a four-hour session on research mentor training, an evidence-based, interactive approach that engages mentors in collective problem solving and connects them with resources to optimize their mentoring practices.

Researchers or health care providers interested in participating in or attending the symposium can contact Kristina Beiswenger at 701.777.6875 or daccota@UND.edu for more information.