The Global Burden of Cancer

In 2012, nearly 8.2 million people worldwide died from cancer. In 2030, it is predicted that that number will rise to 13.2 million. More than 35% of these deaths could be prevented by controlling tobacco use, diet, alcohol use, and infection. Screening for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer and improving access to effect treatments could also save lives. However, many countries, especially those in the developing world, do not have access to basic screening, public health, and oncology clinical resources, much less the capacity to conduct state-of-the-art cancer research. As a result, cancers that could be prevented or treated successfully – lung, stomach, liver, colon, and breast cancer – remain the five leading causes of cancer death for men and women in the developing world.  

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) established the Center for Global Health (CGH) in 2011 to help reduce the global burden of cancer. The CGH develops initiatives and collaborates with other NCI Divisions, NCI-Designated cancer centers, and countries to support cancer research and cancer research networks, promote cancer control planning, and build capacity in low- and middle-income counties. By coordinating US-based research with international partners, the NCI can make progress in cancer research more quickly, building on the investments made in cancer research around the world.

Global Oncology Activities

As part of the NCI-Designated cancer centers network, the Stephenson Cancer Center (SCC) has a responsibility to participate in the NCI’s mission to reduce the global burden of cancer. SCC investigators are actively involved in this effort. Current activities include:

International Pancreatic Cancer Research Network
Min Li, PhD, the SCC’s Associate Director for Global Oncology, has developed an active international network of research collaborators in the field of pancreatic cancer. Partner institutions in this network include the Chinese National Cancer Institute, Shanghai Cancer Center, Tianjin Cancer Center, Japanese National Cancer Institute, Seoul National University, All Indian Medical Sciences Institute, New South Wales University, and German Cancer Center (DKFZ). 

Research Affiliations with International Centers
In 2018, OUHSC signed the first memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Jiangsu Province Hospital (JPH), affiliated with Nanjing Medical University. OUHSC and JPH have maintained a robust long-term collaboration of academic exchange and cooperation for several years, and each has a good understanding of the other's medical research and education. The collaboration between OUHSC and JPH will benefit each side in terms of research productivity and resource sharing. It also helps young physician scientists receive comprehensive training in both basic and translational research in many subspecialties, including cancer, infectious disease, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, etc. Coordinated by Dr. Min Li, the SCC’s Associate Director for Global Oncology, the signing of this MOA is a new milestone for OUHSC and the SCC, and we anticipate this will be the first of several such relationships.

Tobacco Use and HIV in Cambodia
SCC member Thanh Bui, PhD collaborates with the Cambodia National Institute on Public Health to focus on tobacco use and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in Cambodia, a low and middle income country (LMICs). His work targets the development and evaluation of tobacco cessation interventions tailored to HIV-positive populations, including those with co-morbidities such as tuberculosis (TB), in low-resource settings.

Cervical Cancer Screening in Africa
SCC member Kathryn Klump, MD, PhD collaborates with health professionals in northern Uganda to promote low-cost cervical cancer screening for Ugandan women. She also works with local health professionals to promote HPV vaccination to prevent HPV-related cancers.   

International Ovarian Cancer and Precision Medicine Consortium
Established by SCC member Dr. Danny Dhanasekaran in 2012, the International Ovarian Cancer and Precision Medicine Consortium promotes enhanced understanding and collaboration between international experts in the area of ovarian cancer research. An annual three-day conference for Consortium members, held at the SCC, brings together these international experts for scientific presentations and exchange of ideas.  

International Clinical Trials Networks
The SCC is a key participant in NCI-supported clinical trials networks that involve both US and international sites. These networks enhance the global availability of high-quality clinical research. Moreover, due to the rarity of certain cancers, international trials help ensure a larger patient population and more timely completion of the study. SCC member Kathleen Moore, MD was the national PI for the OUTBACK clinical trial (GOG 274), a large international phase III trial looking at the role of paclitaxel / carboplatin as consolidation in locally advanced cervix cancer. The SCC was the lead accruing site for this major international trial, which completed enrollment in 2017 and is anticipated to set the standard-of-care in the management of locally advanced cervix cancer for years to come.    

Contact Information

Min Li, PhD
Associate Director for Global Oncology, SCC
Co-Leader, Cancer Biology Program, SCC
Assistant Dean for International Research Collaborations, College of Medicine
Director, GI Cancer Research, Department of Medicine
Professor, Departments of Internal Medicine, Surgery and Cell Biology
min-li@ouhsc.edu