Alleviating the effects of persistent poverty on cancer outcomes requires building research capacity, fostering cancer prevention research, and promoting the implementation of community-based programs. To enhance the United States’ capacity to do so, the Biden-Harris administration awarded $50 million in June 2023 to create five new Centers for Cancer Control Research in Persistent Poverty Areas that will advance the Cancer Moonshot’s priorities.

The Persistent Poverty Initiative, which the National Cancer Institute (NCI) coordinates, is the first major program to address the structural and institutional factors of persistent poverty in the context of cancer. The administration awarded the five-year funding to the following centers:

  • Acres Homes Cancer Prevention Collaboration: Led by the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the center will work with primarily Black and African American and Hispanic communities in northwest Houston, TX, to provide nutritional and physical activity interventions to help prevent obesity and obesity-related cancer. 
  • Center for Cancer Control in Persistent Poverty Areas: Led by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the center will work with Black and African American communities in Jefferson County to reduce cancer disparities through interventions that improve living environments and promote healthy activities. It will also provide diet and exercise interventions for cancer survivors.  
  • Upstream Center: Led by Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA, the Upstream Center will work with Hispanic and Asian American communities in Santa Clara and Yolo counties in California to assess how state programs for guaranteed basic income affect cancer outcomes and whether the earned income tax credit promotes the adoption of healthy behaviors related to reducing colorectal cancer risk.
  • Center for Social Capital: Led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia University in New York, NY, the center will work with Black and African American, Caribbean American, and Hispanic communities in the South Bronx, north central Brooklyn, Washington Heights, and Western Queens to deliver cancer education and tobacco cessation programs and promote multigenerational health.
  • HOPE and CAIRHE 2gether: The center, led by the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City  will work provide commercial tobacco cessation and obesity prevention interventions to primarily Hispanic communities in Utah and American Indian communities in rural Montana, Oregon, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

“Persistent poverty is a place-based and community phenomenon that reflects a failure of the structures and institutions in society, including health care,” Shobha Srinivasan, PhD, senior advisor for health disparities and health equity in NCI’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, said. “Conducting research to understand the connections between institutions—such as social, economic, and health systems—and persistent poverty is the only way to inform changes to social conditions and determinants of health that will ultimately improve overall health, cancer control, and cancer outcomes.”