Melissa Bondy (320x240)
Melissa L. Bondy, Ph.D.

Baylor College of Medicine is one of 12 healthcare institutions and academic medical centers involved in conducting the first large-scale, multi-institutional study to better understand why African American men with prostate cancer are at a higher risk for developing more aggressive forms of the disease and why the rate of mortality is higher.

The $26.5 million Research on Prostate Cancer in Men of African Ancestry; Defining the Roles of Genetics, Tumor Markers, and Social Stress (RESPOND) study is funded by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities and the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

The RESPOND study will examine the impact of social stressors, such as discrimination, socio-economic status, education, home life and location, and early life events, as well as genetic and biological factors in the development and progression of prostate cancer in African American men.

Collectively across the 12 institutions, researchers hope to recruit 10,000 African American men nationwide to participate in the study.

“We will be working to recruit roughly 3,000 participants from across the state of Texas to enroll in this study. We will begin by holding focus groups this summer. Responses from the group will guide the distribution of a comprehensive survey, and the recruitment process will begin in January,” said Dr. Melissa Bondy, professor of medicine – epidemiology and population sciences and associate director of cancer prevention and population sciences in the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor.

Those participating in the study will be asked to provide a saliva sample and allow researchers to access their prostate cancer biopsy tissue, which will be used solely for research purposes. The samples will be analyzed to identify genetic markers of prostate cancer and unique tumor characteristics.

“The results of this landmark study will allow us to better understand the disparities in incidence and mortality of prostate cancer in African American men,” said Bondy, who also is a McNair Scholar and holds the Dan L Duncan Chair at Baylor.

The Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California will lead the study. Other participating institutions include Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, New Jersey State Cancer Registry, New Jersey Department of Health, Public Health Institute, Emory University, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Louisiana State University Health New Orleans, Moffitt Cancer Center, Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute/Wayne State University and University of California, San Francisco.

Learn more about the study and how to get involved.