Community Outreach and Engagement

The UNMCCC Community Outreach and Engagement Office

Andrew Sussman, PhD, Associate Director for Community Outreach & Engagement

The catchment area for The University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center (UNMCCC) is the entire state of New Mexico; a large, geographically and culturally diverse landmass featuring high concentrations of Hispanic, American Indian and underserved groups. The striking natural beauty of New Mexico poses a contrast to the persistent structural disparities that impact health status, health care utilization such as screening and general access to care, treatment, and participation in cancer clinical trials. As one of only four minority-majority states in the nation, New Mexico has the highest rate of childhood poverty and 32/33 counties are health professional shortage areas. In response to these challenges, the UNMCCC has directed its resources and expertise to identify strategies along the cancer continuum that maximize opportunities for ameliorating existing disparities.

The mission of the UNMCCC Community Outreach and Engagement Office is to reduce cancer burden in New Mexico through an infrastructure that facilitates the research, clinical care, education, and outreach activities of multiple stakeholders and partners (locally, regionally, nationally and internationally) in alignment with UNMCCC strategic goals. The COE is integrated into all research, clinical and outreach/engagement components of the Cancer Center and is guided by community input on strategic decisions, priorities, and policy initiatives.

Specific Aims:

  1. Utilize a participatory framework to ensure bidirectional engagement and goal setting with key stakeholders from diverse community, organizational, and cancer health policy groups.
  2. Facilitate the conduct and promotion of research in the catchment area by identifying community priorities, establishing linkages with stakeholder groups and partners, and communicating and disseminating research information with specific emphasis on cancer health disparities relevant to rural, underserved, racial/ethnic minorities (American Indian, Hispanic), and sexual and gender minorities.
  3. Enhance opportunities for participation in cancer clinical trials through outreach and engagement with underrepresented populations; and
  4. Promote the translation of research findings into the development and assessment of policy in partnership with communities