UF Health Cancer Center researchers receive Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Equity in Access Research Grants

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Equity in Access Research Program has collectively awarded nearly $6.5 million to health services researchers working to uncover and ultimately address the social, economic, and environmental disadvantages that stand in the way of blood cancer patients and survivors accessing the high-quality treatment and care they need throughout their lives.

Carma Bylund, Ph.D., left, and Stephanie Staras, Ph.D.

Carma Bylund, Ph.D., and Stephanie Staras, Ph.D., received a five-year, $2.5-million grant to focus on the implementation of community oncology strategies to promote clinical trial enrollment. The first intervention, Enhanced Connection, will focus on strengthening the relationship between community oncologists and trial principal investigators to ultimately reduce barriers to referral. The second intervention, Enhanced Communication, will include interactive online training designed to enhance community oncologist providers’ knowledge and attitudes about trials and their ability to discuss clinical trials with their patients. This study aims to provide evidence for cancer centers to integrate these practices into their standard research operations and to support the continued training of community oncologists.

Bylund is a professor and associate chair for education in the department of health outcomes and biomedical informatics in the UF College of Medicine, as well as assistant director for the UF Health Cancer Center’s Cancer Training and Education Program. Staras is a professor and associate chair for faculty development in the department of health outcomes and biomedical informatics in the UF College of Medicine, as well as co-leader of the UF Health Cancer Center’s Cancer Control and Population Sciences research program.

Raymond Mailhot, M.D., and Erin Mobley, Ph.D.

Raymond Mailhot, M.D., and Erin Mobley, Ph.D.received a three-year, $741,832 grant to leverage a longitudinal database of electronic health records (EHR), administrative claims, and tumor registry data to examine differences in the receipt and quality of Hodgkin lymphoma treatment and survivorship care by insurance type. This study will also characterize the decision-making experiences of patients from racial/ethnic minoritized groups by insurance type. Findings will inform the development of tailored, personalized approaches to Hodgkin lymphoma treatment and survivorship care and advocacy for expanding Medicaid coverage.

Mailhot is an associate professor in the department of radiation oncology in the UF College of Medicine and Mobley is an assistant professor in the department of surgery in the UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville

LLS expanded Equity in Access in 2024 by releasing two Requests for Proposals, which sought proposals that would generate evidence to increase understanding of the impact of health insurance on access to care and that would implement and evaluate interventions designed to improve therapeutic clinical trial enrollment, particularly among underrepresented groups.

Findings from these studies will enable LLS to draw on a greater body of actionable evidence to inform its own and others’ efforts to foster meaningful change in healthcare policy and develop programs that tangibly improve the lives of blood cancer patients and survivors. 

“While cancer can impact anyone, the unfortunate reality is that equitable access to high-quality, affordable treatment and care is out of reach for many, and no other organization is funding research specifically on equity in access for blood cancer patients and survivors,” said Eric Cooks, PhD, Senior Director, Equity in Access Research Program at LLS. “As a leading cancer nonprofit, LLS is committed to transforming lives through our holistic approach across research, patient support, and advocacy which includes advancing health equity and eliminating health disparities. This research is a first step toward helping all patients and survivors achieve meaningful access to the treatment and care they need when they need it.” 

Findings from these studies may ultimately lead to better health outcomes by identifying steps healthcare systems, providers, insurers, and policymakers can take to increase equitable access to quality and affordable blood cancer treatment (including treatment in a clinical trial). LLS will strive to transform the findings and related recommendations into state and federal policy proposals that its Office of Public Policy will work to implement. 

“LLS continues to build on the success of the program’s first two groups of grant recipients,” said Cooks. “We were able to nearly double the award total from last year, thanks to the generosity of our donors.” 

LLS proudly and gratefully acknowledges Royalty Pharma and AstraZeneca for their support of the Equity in Access Research Program and other initiatives focused on reducing healthcare disparities in blood cancer care and treatment. 

Learn more about the projects.

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