Five Organizations Awarded 2015 International Innovation Grants to Improve Cancer Care in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

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Matthew D. Galsky, MD

The development of novel, resource-appropriate, sustainable, and transferrable programs aimed at improving cancer control in low- and middle-[income countries] is the mission of the Conquer Cancer Foundation International Innovation Grants.

—Matthew D. Galsky, MD

The Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO has announced the five recipients of the 2015 International Innovation Grant. This grant supports novel and innovative projects that may improve diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer in low- and middle-income countries. For 2015, the 1-year grants of up to $20,000 will support projects in India, Mexico, Nigeria, Romania, and Uganda.

Roughly two-thirds of cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, where 5-year survival rates are lower than in high-income countries.1 By reducing barriers to cancer control, these projects have the potential to reduce the cancer burden in the communities where the grantees live and work, as well as in other low- or middle-income settings.

“The development of novel, resource-appropriate, sustainable, and transferrable programs aimed at improving cancer control in low- and middle-[income countries] is the mission of the Conquer Cancer Foundation International Innovation Grants. The research studies proposed by the five awardees are perfect exemplars of this mission,” said International Innovation Grant Subcommittee Chair Matthew D. Galsky, MD.

 The recipients of the 2015 Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO International Innovation Grants are:

College of Medicine, University of Ibadan (Nigeria)

Principal Investigator: Olutosin Alaba Awolude, MBBS, MS

Cervical cancer screening techniques like visual inspection with acetic acid are often not accessible to patients in developing countries such as Nigeria due to a shortage of trained nurses and midwives, especially in hard-to-reach communities. Based on the success of HIV programs in Africa, Dr. Awolude will implement community-level intervention strategies to recruit and train local health providers to prevent, detect, and treat cervical cancer.

Uganda Cancer Institute/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Clinic and Training
Institute (Uganda)

Principal  Investigator: Noleb Mugume Mugisha, MPH, MBChB

Dr. Mugisha will conduct a 9-month pilot study to test the impact and acceptability of an integrated screening program on identifying early-stage invasive cervical cancer in a high-volume HIV clinic in Kampala, Uganda. By coordinating efforts between traditionally siloed HIV and cancer care programs, this innovative study will evaluate the success of offering cervical cancer screening services in HIV clinics overseen by cancer specialists.

Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador
Zubirán (Mexico)

Principal  Investigator: Yanin Chávarri-Guerra, MD, MSc

Mexican women with breast cancer present at more advanced stages than those in developed countries due to delays in diagnosis and poor access to information. Dr. Chávarri-Guerra plans to implement a breast health educational program for rural adolescents that he hypothesizes will increase knowledge of breast health and promote help-seeking behaviors.

Tata Medical Center (India)

Principal Investigator: Tanuj Chawla, MD, MBBS

More than a million patients are diagnosed with cancer in India each year, and most of them experience toxicity during chemotherapy, for which they must travel long distances to receive help. Dr. Chawla hypothesizes that Short Message Service (SMS) alerts may improve chemotherapy protocol compliance and reduce toxicity in patients. The first of its kind in a developing country, Dr. Chawla’s randomized controlled trial will test the success of text-message intervention on reducing emergency room visits, among other indicators, for patients who are beginning a chemotherapy regimen.

The Oncology Institute “Prof. Dr. Ion Chiricuta” (Romania)

Principal Investigator: Alexandru Eugen Eniu, MD, PhD

Despite having access to many standard therapies for breast cancer, patients in Romania have worse outcomes than patients in developed countries who receive the same treatments. Dr. Eniu plans to implement a telemedicine web-based platform that will enable an experienced multidisciplinary breast tumor board to review cases and improve treatment decisions for patients in small, remote cancer centers.

The 2015 International Innovation Grants were made possible by the generous support of ASCO International, AstraZeneca, and Roche. 


1. Patel JD, Galsky MD, Chagpar AB, et al: Role of American Society of Clinical Oncology in low- and middle-income countries. J Clin Oncol 29:3097-3102, 2011.

© 2015. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All rights reserved.