Janice Krieger, Ph.D., director of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications STEM Translational Communication Center, will serve as principal investigator on a $3.5 million U01 grant from the National Cancer Institute to use virtual human technology to increase racial and ethnic minority representation in cancer clinical trials.
The five-year grant will use virtual human technology developed at UF to launch a tool called the ALEX Research Portal. The portal provides users with culturally and linguistically tailored information about cancer clinical trials, helping to remove barriers to participation among minority populations by making sure patients have access to the resources they need.
Another barrier to participation is the limited availability of community health educators. By facilitating virtual community health educators, the portal will make clinical trial referrals easier and consolidate referral channels.
Other awardees on the grant include the UF College of Nursing, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, College of Medicine, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and UF Health Jacksonville. The team will also include researchers from the University of Miami and Florida International University.
Krieger’s team will launch the portal across three distinct geographic areas of Florida: Gainesville, Jacksonville and Miami. The project will proceed in three phases: establishing a baseline of referrals and accruing diverse participants to cancer clinical trials across multiple Florida cancer centers, adapting and piloting the portal by using a randomized controlled clinical trial, and disseminating the intervention via the OneFlorida network.
The overarching goal is to increase referrals to cancer clinical trials by optimizing the portal for broad use throughout Florida. This will ensure researchers have access to participants who are representative of the racial and ethnic diversity of the state.
Krieger, a professor in the department of advertising who serves as co-leader of the UF Health Cancer Center’s Cancer Control and Population Sciences research program, is collaborating with co-principal investigator Olveen Carrasquillo, M.D., M.P.H., professor of medicine and public health sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine/Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.