Program seeks to expand the ranks of Latinos studying disparities in cancer

Contact: Cliff Despres, (210) 562-6517

SAN ANTONIO (March 30, 2011) — A mentorship program opening in June at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio encourages Latinos to pursue careers studying how disease – especially cancer – affects minorities differently.

April 13 is the application deadline for Èxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training. The ideal candidate is a Hispanic or Latino master’s degree-level student or a master’s degree-trained health professional, but all ethnicities are welcome to apply. For more information or to apply, visit

Èxito! (English: Success!) is led by the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at the UT Health Science Center. Patterned after a successful program in California, Èxito! is funded by a five-year, $1.57 million grant from the National Cancer Institute.

The hope is that Èxito! participants will go on to earn doctoral degrees and conduct research on why Hispanics and Latinos suffer worse outcomes from cancer and chronic disease. These newly minted researchers would bring knowledge of language, culture and socioeconomic issues that could pave the way for novel studies in health disparities.

Right now, few Latinos pursue doctoral degrees or cancer research careers, leading to a shortage of researchers examining Latino cancer issues, said Amelie G. Ramirez, DrPH, director of Éxito! and the IHPR.

“We hope that training new Latino researchers will increase the proportion of Latinos in cancer control research, which in turn will increase the amount of work being done to reduce cancer health inequalities that affect the Latino population,” Dr. Ramirez said.

Éxito! will recruit an annual cohort of 20 master’s-level students or master’s-trained health professionals. Recruitment will focus on Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada, and will eventually expand to other states.

Participants will attend a five-day summer institute that aims to provide motivation, skills and resources needed to apply for doctoral programs. The first summer institute is scheduled for June 2-6, 2011, in San Antonio.

Beginning in 2012, participants will be eligible for annual internships in Latino cancer research.

Once accepted into doctoral programs, Éxito! alumni will be able to participate in biannual retreats beginning in 2014. These retreats will offer academic, financial and psychosocial counseling and mentoring, hopefully contributing to successful graduation.

“We anticipate that at least 15 percent of Éxito! participants will enroll into doctoral programs, and most of them will report cancer control as their research focus,” Dr. Ramirez said. “And we expect the majority of these students to indicate that our program had a strong positive influence on these academic goals.”

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 3 percent of all institutions worldwide receiving U.S. federal funding. Research and other sponsored program activity totaled $228 million in fiscal year 2010. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced approximately 26,000 graduates. The $744 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit

The Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) investigates the causes and solutions to the unequal impact of cancer and chronic disease among Latinos, in San Antonio, South Texas and the nation. The IHPR, founded in 2006, is based at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio with a satellite office in Harlingen, Texas. The IHPR uses evidence-guided research, training and community outreach to improve the health of those at a disadvantage due to race/ethnicity or social determinants. Visit the IHPR online at

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