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Yale Cancer Disparities Firewall Project Receives Grants from the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation to Fight COVID-19

May 21, 2020

Yale Cancer Center is pleased to announce that the Yale Cancer Disparities Firewall (Firewall) project has been awarded two grants from the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation. Recently the focus of the Firewall project, originally designed to address cancer disparities among minorities and people of low socioeconomic status living in New Haven, has shifted to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The Yale Cancer Disparities Firewall Project is co-led by Roy S. Herbst, MD, PhD, Beth A. Jones, PhD, MPH, and Sakinah Carter Suttiratana, PhD, MPH, MBA.

The two grants aim to address the unique challenges and strengths of this diverse community living in New Haven. The first award supports a needs assessment that will inform community-level interventions during COVID-19 or similar public health challenges, while identifying opportunities to advance cancer prevention long-term, led by Dr. Jones. The second award will create a longitudinal cohort of cancer patients with COVID-19 infection to obtain data on the natural history of SARS-CoV-2 infections in cancer patients, led by Dr. Herbst. The hope is that the samples collected will answer questions in real-time related to how COVID-19 infections affect cancer patients, especially those who are immunocompromised due to treatments. The findings may also inform possible treatments options for these patients.

Dr. Jones, Research Scientist in and Lecturer in Epidemiology (Chronic Diseases), and Associate Director of Engagement for the Center for Community Engagement and Health Equity, commented, “The Firewall project was started as a way to address the cancer needs of vulnerable populations, particularly those who identify as minorities and people of low socioeconomic status as they often face unique challenges across the continuum of cancer prevention, screening, early detection, treatment, and clinical research. During this time our focus may have shifted slightly, but our mission remains the same. We are excited to begin work and are grateful to theBristol Myers Squibb Foundation for their continued support.”

Submitted by Emily Montemerlo on May 21, 2020