Global Cancer Program: 2021 Year in Review

Throughout 2021, the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center (HDFCCC) Global Cancer Program (GCP) continued to pursue our mission to reduce the global cancer burden through innovative research, education, and collaboration. Despite challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have successfully adapted approaches to carry out activities while maintaining safety of our team members. This productive year is a true testament to the strengths of our partners in East Africa, Latin America, and Asia. As we plan for continued, sustainable growth of our program, we reflect back on several highlights from the year.



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  • Launched a clinical trial for HPV-associated cancers among populations living with HIV in Puerto Rico, with plans to start in Mexico in early 2022
  • Published 20+ articles in high impact, peer-reviewed journals
  • Awarded two awards for pilot research projects led by Tanzanian investigators
  • Awarded a Global Cancer Pilot Award to explore the role of diet, lifestyle and the microbiome among Latin-x patients with young-onset colorectal cancer in Mexico and California
  • Secured five new grants to support research at international partner sites



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Capacity Building

  • Empowered nurse mentors through leadership training in Tanzania
  • Hosted hybrid virtual and in-person training for nurses for palliative wound care in Tanzania
  • Facilitated skills training workshiops to support esophageal stents in Tanzania
  • Hosted educational series of webinars for radiation therapy in Tanzania
  • Expanded laboratory capabilities for point-of-care diagnostics for high-risk HPV in Mexico and Puerto Rico



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  • Launched a five-year NIH D43 grant to establish a cancer research training program in Tanzania
  • Mentored five Global Cancer Fellows who received numerous prestigious awards, including a Fulbright Fellowship, a Watson Scholarship, an NIH F32, and a Conacyt Scholarship.
  • Hosted 11 trainees from international partner sites to take the “Designing Clinical Research” course
  • A first-ever class of six Vietnamese fellows completed their training in pediatric oncology training


Without travel...How are we working?
COVID-19 has had a significant impact in Tanzania, Mexico, and Vietnam. However, despite being unable to travel, our projects have not slowed down! Leaders at each partner site have developed strategies to continue supporting the aims of each study while maintaining safety. For example, education and capacity building efforts have been moved to virtual platforms and research projects have limited patient contact. This continued productivity is due to the leadership, flexibility, and resilience of our international partners!



Cancer Research Training Program in Tanzania Selects First Cohort of Scholars
In 2021, the Global Cancer Program launched a D43 award to formally establish a cancer research training program in Tanzania, in partnership with Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS). The overarching goal of this five-year program is to train and mentor a cadre of investigators in Tanzania who are capable of conceptualizing, achieving funding for, implementing, analyzing, and publishing original research focused on cancer. The program is comprised of three unique pathways for scholars, which were designed to allow trainees to pursue varied training opportunities that align with their individual career goals and personal circumstances. During 2021, the program selected two Doctoral scholars, eight clinican-researchers, and 11 post-graduate scholars. In November, we hosted a mentorship training for all Tanzanian mentors and scholars.

Launch of CAMPO Study of HPV-affiliated Cancers in Puerto Rico
In November 2021, the UCSF Global Cancer Program launched the first study of the CAlifornia-Mexico-Puerto RicO (“CAMPO”) Collaboration for Prevention of HPV-related cancer in populations living with HIV in Puerto Rico. This study is funded by a U54 grant from the NIH which is part of the National Cancer Institute Division of Cancer Prevention’s US-Latin American-Caribbean Clinical Trials Network for Prevention of HPV-related Cancers in People Living with HIV. This is the first clinical trial to be led by the HDFCCC Global Cancer Program and will examine innovative approaches to cervical and anal cancer prevention among populations living with HIV in Latin America. Given the high prevalence of both HPV-related cancers and HIV in Latin America, there is a key need to optimize approaches to screening, vaccination, and treatment in the region. This study is was developed in partnership with the University of Puerto Rico Comprehensive Cancer Center in San Juan, and the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute for Public Health in Mexico. The study will launch in Mexico in early 2022. Congratulations to the entire CAMPO team!

UCSF Global Cancer Program Trains First Cohort of Pediatric Oncology Fellows in Vietnam

To address gaps in education and training for specialized pediatric oncologists, Dr. Michelle Hermiston leads UCSF’s collaboration with the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Ho Chi Minh City to develop the first national pediatric hematology and oncology training program in Vietnam. In 2019, the program welcomed its first cohort of six fellows to start the curriculum focusing on improving research capacity and diagnostic and treatment practices in Vietnam through teaching and clinical rotations with and in five major hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City. Due to COVID-19, the fellowship training shifted to virtual platforms in early 2020. In November 2021, this first cohort of fellows completed the program, and all passed their final competency exams. Upon graduation, these fellows will become key leaders and mentors for future fellow cohorts.