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Quarterly Newsletter | July 2022

Global Cancer Disparities Initiatives

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center & African Research Group for Oncology

Table of Contents

Dear Friends:

It is hard to believe we are half-way through 2022. We hope all of you and your families remain healthy as we all learn to live with COVID-19 and resume activities at a pre-pandemic level. The work of ARGO and GCDI continues to grow and expand, and we hope you will take a moment to read through the recent GCDI-ARGO activities. We are happy to announce our grant application for the NIH D43-Expanding Cancer Research Capacity in Nigeria with Team Science was accepted. A meeting of the Executive Committee was held in Lagos in June. Peter Kingham was able to join us in Lagos while other members from NY joined by zoom. Please take a moment to review all the recent news below.

We are delighted to be able to once again plan for an annual ARGO symposium in Nigeria that will take place this September. We expect to host visiting faculty from MSKCC and look forward to welcoming all to Ife once again. More information will be forthcoming on the program.

Warm regards,
Peter and Isaac

ARGO & GCDI Updates

ARGO & GCDI Strategic Planning Session Summary

The Global Cancer Disparities Initiatives (GCDI) program and the African Research Group for Oncology (ARGO)  held their third annual strategic planning meeting in April.  Participants included faculty from North America, as well as Nigeria and Kenya.  The meeting was a hybrid format with some participating in person at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York and others virtually via zoom.  Dr. Peter Kingham, Director of the GCDI program,
welcomed Dr. Vikki Mango as the new Assistant Director of GCDI.  The meeting was divided into three sessions:  Breast cancer, Colorectal cancer management and a general strategic planning session. It looked at current studies and themes related to establishing strategies for breast and colorectal cancer management in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) as well as overarching collaborations between ARGO and GCDI and the potential expansion to new countries.
Further discussion focused on the creation of disease-based working groups. The senior leadership is composed of Drs. Isaac Alatise (OAUTHC), Peter Kingham (MSKCC), Vikki Mango (MSKCC), and Professor Fatimah Abdulkareem (University of Lagos). The working group leadership teams are listed below. Leaders will coordinate working group meetings and help ensure that there is no overlap between projects. In addition, we hope that the working groups will ensure that all disciplines are appropriately represented in research and training projects. 
  • Dr. Dianna Ng (MSKCC)
  • Dr. Leye Omisore (OAUTHC)
Breast Cancer
  • Dr. Marcia Edelweiss (MSKCC)
  • Dr. Lekan Olasehinde (OAUTHC)
Colorectal Cancer
  • Professor Samuel Olatoke (University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital)
  • Dr. Anna Dare (University of Toronto)
Cervical Cancer
  • Dr. Kara Long (MSKCC)
  • Dr. Ibrahim Awowole (OAUTHC)
Clinical Care (Nursing/Pharmacy)
  • Dr. Margaret Barton-Burke (MSKCC)
  • Dr. Esther Afolabi (OAUTHC)
HPB Surgery
  • Dr. Peter Kingham (MSKCC)
  • Dr. Isaac Alatise (OAUTHC)

D43 Expanding Cancer Research Capacity in Nigeria with Team Science

MSK-GCDI received the above D43 NIH grant in March of this year. Together with ARGO, they have launched the program with the first Executive Committee meeting having just been held in Lagos, Nigeria in June. This program will support Nigerian post-doctoral candidates in fortifying skills in cancer research training to strengthen research capacity for individuals and institutions, while also enhancing broader relationships at national, regional, and global levels. D43 Scholars will be invited to participate in a one-year postdoctoral research position at the MSK Cancer Center in New York after which they will have an additional year of mentored research at the applicant’s home institution in Nigeria. These trainees will become vital faculty members and mentors for future cancer-focused training in Nigeria. Applications have been invited from the fields of epidemiology, nursing, behavioral sciences such as psycho-oncology, molecular biology, and statistics. GCDI and ARGO anticipate two post-doctoral positions will be available per year over the next three years.

NCAT Scholar Program Update

The Nigerian Cancer Research Training (NCAT) Program, supported by a grant from the Oak Foundation, is a multi-pronged training program utilizing workshops, coursework, hands-on research, and mentorship in an effort to strengthen cancer research capacity in Nigeria and provide investigators with the skills needed to lead independent oncology research programs. Long-term, this program will bolster research capacity in Nigeria, allowing regional scientists to contribute to the expanding knowledge base of cancer care and treatment in Nigeria. The program will further fortify and expand long-term research partnerships between Nigerian and U.S. oncology researchers. 

The current cohort of eleven scholars just completed their third workshop in Lagos. The program focused on study designs, working with Reference Manager, utilizing databases, and ensuring quality assurance. The workshop was facilitated by Drs. Isaac Alatise, Peter Kingham, Titilope Adeyanju, and Israel Owoade. A hybrid model was utilized with faculty from New York participating via Zoom. Applications are currently being reviewed for the second cohort of scholars. We look forward to announcing accepted scholars in our Fall quarterly newsletter.

 From Left to right:  Dr. Mohammed, Mrs. Avwioro, and Dr. Dim.

GCDI Surgical Oncology Fellow in Nigeria

Shilpa Murthy, MD, MPH  MSKCC’s  International Surgical Oncology Global Cancer Disparities Fellow is currently in Nigeria working with  Dr. Isaac Alatise  leading two studies “Building Capacity for Early Diagnosis of Colorectal Cancer Through a Comprehensive Colonoscopy Training Program in Nigeria” and “Developing an Early Diagnosis Program for Bowel Cancer in Nigeria.”  Dr. Murthy spent time at MSKCC prior to transitioning to OAUTHC where she will finish her Fellowship in Fall 2022. Dr. Murthy brings considerable global experience working at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland
where she worked on premature mortality outcomes and contributed to the WHO Report on Cancer. She was a Lancet Commissioner on Global Cancer Surgery part I and now part II for the Lancet Oncology Journal. She obtained a Master of Public Health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and was a research fellow at the Center for Surgery and Public Health/Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston Massachusetts from 2013-2015. During her time at Harvard, she worked in Rwanda with the University of Rwanda Department of Surgery
to implement two randomized controlled educational trials related to breast cancer care, assisted in development of national cancer guidelines with the Ministry of Health, and implemented several surgical education programs for medical students and residents. She completed her general surgery training at Indiana University and a colorectal fellowship at John Goligher Colorectal Unit, Leeds Teaching Hospitals in England which was sponsored by the Royal College of Surgeons England.

Transition to OAUTHC

As of May 16th, 2022, all the non-NIH funded studies have been successfully transferred back to Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex (OAUTHC) for sponsorship. As part of this initiative, the GCDI and ARGO teams worked together to transition the REDCap databases associated with the non-NIH funded studies onto the OAU server. In this capacity, MSKCC will no longer serve as the sponsor and primary data coordinating site for these studies. However, they will be able to access identified data within the OAU REDCap databases in order to assist with QA monitoring through a data transfer agreement executed on June 16, 2022. This successful transition marks an important milestone for the growth and expansion of the GCDI-ARGO collaboration.

Joint MSK-ARGO Research Training in Nigeria

On Saturday, June 11th, 2022, GCDI's clinical research team (composed of Cristina Olcese, Rivka Kahn, Grace Fitzgerald and Naqiya Choonawala) traveled to Nigeria for the first time to conduct Clinical Research Training at Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex in Ife, Nigeria. The training was conducted over four days and included participation from 30 research assistants representing 10 different hospitals. 
The primary objectives of this training were to increase understanding of MSKCC's and OAUTHC’s regulatory policies, procedures, and compliance. Additionally, we sought to build and fortify new relationships amongst the team members at MSKCC, OAUTHC and other participating sites within ARGO. 
The first three days involved lots of interactive presentations from the MSKCC GCDI team on Regulatory Compliance, ARGO standard operating procedures (SOPs), Deviations, Informed Consent and Eligibility, Quality Assurance, and REDCap Database Review. On the third day, Dr. Owoade, program manager of ARGO, led a presentation on the regulations and policies of conducting clinical research at OAUTHC and reinforced the roles and responsibilities of the Institutional Review Board and Ethical Review Committee. On the final day, all the research assistants were broken out into study-associated small groups. The groups reviewed the aims and objectives of their studies and discussed the processes and nuances at their different locations. The MSKCC GCDI team was able to better understand some of the challenges the research assistants faced while managing each of their studies and were able to discuss ways to better support them moving forward. 
The ARGO team also educated the MSKCC GCDI team on Nigerian culture. Each day of the research training, MSKCC GCDI members were introduced to Nigerian food, language, and clothes. They tried Nigerian delicacies such as Pepper soup (Spicy catfish soup), Puff Puff (Spicy fried dough balls), and Swallow (mashed yam that is dipped into a soup made of melon seeds and swallowed without chewing!). The MSKCC GCDI team also learned some words and phrases in Yoruba and listened to Nigerian music during breaks in the training. The ARGO team was also gracious enough to gift the MSKCC GCDI team members with tailor-made clothing with Nigerian patterns and prints.

Overall, the training proved to be a successful bi-directional learning experience for all! The GCDI team would like to give a special thanks to their gracious hosts at OAUTHC for a warm welcome to Nigeria!  

Featured Scholar

Dr. Oludolapo A. Omoyiola
Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals Complex 

We are delighted to feature Dr. Oludolapo A. Omoyiola, visiting Medical Oncology Fellow, in our GCDI-ARGO quarterly newsletter. Below please find an edited interview between Ms. Kate Randolph, Program Manager, for the GCDI program and Dr. Oludolapo.

Dr. Omoyiola’s home institution is Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals Complex in Ile Ife, Nigeria where he specializes in Hematology/Oncology. He came to MSKCC in September of 2021.
KR: Dr. Oludolapo can you tell us about your association with GCDI and ARGO?
Dr. O.: I became acquainted with the work of ARGO through Dr. Isaac Alatise, a surgeon at OAUTHC, and an amazing individual who has created a research program and a coalition of physicians and scientists committed to improving cancer care and research. He introduced me to the GCDI Program and last September I came to MSKCC for a Fellowship in Medical Oncology.

KR: Prior to coming to MSKCC what were your expectations from this Fellowship?
Dr. O.: Prior to coming I did not know the scope of medical oncology, so my goal was to learn as much as possible. The field of medical oncology does not exist in Nigeria in the same way as other specialties, such as surgery or gynecology. Medical Oncology is evolving as a field in Nigeria. I came with an open mind to learn all that was possible and to bring this knowledge home with me. And I learned that the depth and the breath of this field is extensive.
KR: What has your experience been like over these last 10 months?
Dr. O.: My experience here at MSKCC has been remarkable, very remarkable. The first thing that struck me were the available resources. The ability to utilize resources such as the library and be able to access any article or journal in the world. This is a form of empowerment and learning and it is amazing when you have not previously had access to resources such as these. In Nigeria access to journals and articles can be extremely difficult and quite costly. So, this was a very pleasant surprise. Additionally, the experience of learning about all the sub-specializations within medical oncology was extraordinary.  Learning from faculty who specialize in colon cancer, gastric cancer, prostate cancer, as well as others where every detail is important and no detail is lost. This was amazing. In Nigeria this very narrow focus in a sub-specialty does not really exist. Physicians do a bit of everything. Here there are faculty who have become authorities in their sub-specialized fields, and we can learn a lot from them. They have done trials and studies over years. It is amazing.
KR: What will you bring back to your practice, research, work with your home institution that you have learned during your time here.

Dr. O.: So many things! But let me talk about a few. 1) As I said, medical oncology is evolving in Nigeria. We do not currently have a curriculum to train medical oncologists. So, developing a program in medical oncology will be a major initiative that I will work towards when I return to OAUTHC. My hope is that it could ultimately evolve and receive formal accreditation and we could begin to train residents doctors and then train specialists. 2) A tumor board meeting similar to what is done here at MSKCC. These meetings that I have attended here every week where patients are discussed and there is a multi-disciplinary team of physicians participating, do not currently exist in Nigeria. I believe if we could start something similar back home it would go a long way and facilitate a multi-disciplinary approach to treatment of patients among our peers and scholars. This is something we could adopt to strengthen oncology care for patients, and 3) The electronic medical record system at MSKCC is quite outstanding. Learning from this model so that we might build a cancer registry that is electronic at the micro-level would be something I would like to take back home and see if we could develop for patients and cancer cases. To build a registry so that it becomes a recognizable registry that will contribute to global oncology statistics would be a very good thing for Nigeria and would facilitate ongoing and future research.
KR: Has this work contributed to your long-term career goals?
Dr. O.:  Definitely. The knowledge I have gained and the relationships I have developed with faculty here, will travel back to Nigeria with me. That knowledge I hope will ultimately impact oncology care for patients and those relationships and collaborations will facilitate continued research in the field of oncology for physicians and scientists.

KR: What gives you energy outside of work?
Dr. O.: God, all energy comes from God. And when I’m not working, I’m sleeping. I rise early to work and come late to sleep, and God replenishes energy to start all over the next day.

KR: What surprised you most about your time in New York?
Dr. O.:  One of the first things that struck me is the way the weather will change in a 24-hour period. Every day I wear a jacket just in case it gets cold. In Nigeria the temperature wouldn’t change more than one or two degrees in a 24-hour period. But here, it can change quickly. Also, the people. New Yorkers are very focused when they walk down the street, but if you are lost or need directions, they are quite amazingly warm and will go out of their way to help you.

KR: Any advice for fellow Nigerians or colleagues from other parts of Africa coming to MSKCC/New York?
Dr. O.:  My advice would be to seize the opportunity to make the best out of it. I love New York. It is beautiful. It is a city of diversity.

KR: Thank you Dr. O. We are delighted to have you here.

Research Updates

(NIH/UH3) Point of care, real time urine metabolomics test to diagnose colorectal cancers and polyps in low-and middle-income countries. In May of 2022, two team members from the University of Alberta, a partner in this study, visited OAU to test the efficacy of a handheld urine device to detect colorectal cancer in urine metabolites. While the device has been built in Canada, the visit to Ile Ife provided an opportunity to test and assess device performance under the actual environmental conditions in which it will ultimately be utilized. This provided valuable insights towards ensuring success of the study and guiding next steps.

From left to right; Mr. Femi Daramola, Mr. Mateo Echeverry, Mr. Adeoluwa Adeleye, Ms. Claudia Torres Calzada, Mr. Samson Gbenga Ogunleye

(NIH/R01) Determining the Risk Factor Profile and Biology of Colorectal Cancer in Nigeria. The R01 study, a case-control study, to determine the risk factor profile and biology of colorectal cancer in Nigeria, has successfully accrued 865 patients as of 1-July-2022. The study is currently under way at four institutions, OAUTHC, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH), Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH). It is now expanding to include the National Hospital in Abuja and University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital in Maiduguri. At the recent Research Training in Ife, the team was happy to welcome two new research assistants from those institutions. The expansion of participating sites will facilitate a broader reach throughout Nigeria.


Alatise OI, Dare AJ, Akinyemi PA, Abdulkareem FB, Olatoke SA, Knapp GC, Kingham TP, Colorectal cancer screening with fecal immunochemical testing: a community-based, cross-sectional study in average-risk individuals in Nigeria. Lancet Global Health. 2022; 10(11):e1012-e1022.

Kwakye G, Dally CK, Colorectal cancer screening in sub-Saharan Africa. Lancet Global Health - Comment. 2022; 10(7): e938-939.

Mango VL, Olasehinde O, Omisore A, Wuraola FO, Famurewa OC, Sevilimedu V, et al.
The iBreastExam versus clinical breast examination for breast evaluation in high risk and symptomatic Nigerian women: a prospective study. Lancet Global Health. 2022; 10(4): e555-e563.

NgwaW, Addai BW, Adewole I, Ainsworth V, Kerr D, et al. Cancer in sub-Saharan Africa: a Lancet Oncology Commission. Lancet Oncology. 2022; 23: e251-312.


Oncology Capacity Building in Sub-Saharan Africa

Pfizer Global Medical Grants (GMG) and Global Bridges Oncology (GBO) are collaborating to offer a new grant opportunity focused on improving outcomes for people with cancer in Sub-Saharan Africa. Organizations and institutions in the region that provide care for cancer patients are invited to submit proposals for Quality Improvement (QI) projects to improve cancer diagnostics and treatment outcomes. Quality improvement projects are systematic, data-guided initiatives structured to generate measurable improvement in health care services and the health status of individuals and targeted patient groups. 

Letters of Intent Due: August 11, 2022
Full Proposals Due: December 1, 2022

More information on this Request for Proposals here.

Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Dissemination and Implementation Science for Cancer Prevention and Control in Low-Resource Environments (NOT-CA-22-038)

NCI encourages applications that pursue innovative approaches to identifying, understanding, and developing strategies for overcoming barriers to the adoption, adaptation, integration, scale-up, and sustainability of evidence-based interventions, tools, policies, and guidelines in low-resource settings. The research projects on which these applications will be based should be focused on dissemination and implementation research for the primary and secondary prevention of cancer in LMICs and/or in populations facing conditions of vulnerability in HICs. The projects described in grant applications must be built on evidence-based interventions (including cost-effectiveness) for the respective population groups under defined contextual circumstances. For promising interventions, a limited validation period can be envisaged. However, the core of the research activities should focus on their implementation in real-life settings.

Due Dates: 
- Clinical Trial Optional: October 5, 2022
R03 - Clinical Trial Not Allowed: October 16, 2022
R21 - Clinical Trial Optional: October 16, 2022

More information on this grant opportunity here.
NIH Request for Information

The Fogarty International Center and seven NIH partners request input on approaches NIH might take to promote greater equity in global health research conducted in low- and middle- income countries (LMICs). The NIH looks forward to hearing from the U.S. and international scientific, academic, and public health community members — especially those from LMICs. 

Due: August 1, 2022

To submit feedback:

Upcoming Opportunities & Events

ARGO Annual Symposium

Watch for news on our upcoming ARGO Annual Symposium planned for September 27-29 in Ile Ife, Nigeria at OAUTHC!
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