In 1999 the then Office of Minority Health Disparities headed by Dr. John Ruffin along with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) initiated several new research initiatives to support funding for the establishment of cancer research partnerships between existing NCI Comprehensive and/or NCI designated Cancer Centers and Minority Serving Institutions. These initiatives arose from the disturbing observations that although minorities including African-Americans suffer a disproportionate burden of cancer deaths in this country, neither the cancer centers alone nor minority serving institutions have been effective in addressing this problem. The initial objective of the NCI program was to strengthen the capabilities of minority serving institutions to engage in effective and productive cancer research collaborations with their neighboring cancer centers, with the ultimate goal of reducing the high cancer incidence and death rates among minorities. The MMC-VICC partnership was initiated by a supplement to the VICC (Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center) Support Grant (CCSG) in 1999. In 2000, Drs. Adunyah and Moses successfully competed for one of two U54 NCI Comprehensive Partnership Grants that were funded in the country.
In 2006 the two principal investigators successfully competed for another five years of funding, which awarded Meharry $10 million through 2011. During this time, Tennessee State University was added as a full member of the partnership, creating a triad between Meharry Medical College, Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center, and TSU, with TSU housing the Cancer Outreach Component of the partnership.
In 2011, the partnership successfully competed for its U54 grant from NCI, which brought another $16 million to the partnership to support research and training activities for five years. The current leadership of the partnership is comprised of Drs. Samuel E. Adunyah and Philip E. Lammers (Meharry Medical College), Hal Moses and Ann Richmond (VICC), and Baqar Husaini and Margaret Whalen (TSU).
The Meharry- Vanderbilt- Tennessee State Cancer Partnership (MVT) grant represents one of the very few U54s with a balanced focus on population science, basic, and clinical research.
The M-V-T cancer partnership continues to grow. The partnership has submitted a competitive renewal and will expand training to high school students.