UA Receives Merck Foundation Funds to Promote Patient-Centered Cancer Care for Latinos, Underserved

Friday, February 10, 2017

A new University of Arizona initiative, funded by the Merck Foundation, will expand access to high-quality cancer care for Latinos and other underserved populations in Southern Arizona.

The collaborative effort brings together the UA College of Medicine – Tucson’s Department of Family and Community Medicine, the UA Department of Psychology, UA Cancer Center and many community partners, including El Rio Community Health Center and the Arizona Community Health Workers Association, to address the needs of underserved communities in the state.

Heidi Hamann, PhD, associate professor in the UA Departments of Psychology and Family and Community Medicine and a member of the UA Cancer Center, is the principal investigator for the project. She will lead efforts on the five-year, $1.99 million grant from the Merck Foundation Alliance to Advance Patient-Centered Cancer Care. Projects funded by the grant will help support patients and ensure their preferences, values and needs help guide clinical decisions related to their care.

“The Merck Foundation funding will have a profound effect on the lives of people in our region. Working together with our community partners, we can improve access to high-quality cancer care, and with better outcomes,” Dr. Hamann said.

The grant will support programs aimed at improving timely access to cancer care through improved collaboration between primary care physicians and cancer specialists, better engagement with patients and increased oncology communication training for UA medical students and other trainees in the health sciences. Funding also will enhance access to culturally appropriate, evidence-based psychosocial care for underserved cancer patients and their families.

“This grant from the Merck Foundation builds on the University of Arizona’s strong history of collaboration with community partners throughout Southern Arizona,” said UA President Ann Weaver Hart. “Their support advances our work to enhance the quality of life for everyone in Arizona, and I am grateful for all this will allow the UA to accomplish.”

About The Merck Foundation

The Merck Foundation is a U.S.-based, private charitable foundation. Established in 1957 by Merck, a global health care leader, the Foundation is funded entirely by the company and is Merck’s chief source of funding support to qualified non-profit charitable organizations. Since its inception, the Merck Foundation has contributed more than $870 million to support important initiatives that address societal needs and are consistent with Merck’s overall mission to help the world be well. For more information, visit

About the University of Arizona Cancer Center

The University of Arizona Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center headquartered in Arizona. With primary locations at the University of Arizona in Tucson and at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, the UA Cancer Center has more than a dozen research and education offices throughout the state, with more than 300 physicians and scientists working together to prevent and cure cancer. For more information:

About the University of Arizona Health Sciences

The statewide leader in biomedical research and health professions training, the UA Health Sciences includes the UA Colleges of Medicine (Phoenix and Tucson), Nursing, Pharmacy and Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, with main campus locations in Tucson and the growing Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix. From these vantage points, the UA Health Sciences impacts the state of Arizona and the greater Southwest through cutting-edge health education, research, patient care and community outreach services. A major economic engine, the UA Health Sciences employs almost 5,000 people, has nearly 1,000 faculty members and garners more than $126 million in research grants and contracts annually. For more information, please visit (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn)

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