998647196Georgetown University Medical Center’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center opened its new Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities Research in Southeast D.C. with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Councilmember David Catania and Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia attended the ceremony, among other university and district health officials.

Located at 1000 New Jersey Ave. SE, the new office will be led by cancer epidemiologist Lucile Adams-Campbell and will focus on reducing cancer-related and other health disparities among the underserved and ethnic minority populations in the city.

She defined health disparity as any inequality in treatment or services resulting from race, gender, physical or mental disabilities, occupation, age or education.

“Our focus is on addressing healthy lifestyles to prevent and control cancer,” Adams-Campbell said. “We know we have high sedentary populations, which results in high obesity. We’re focusing on nutrition and diet. If we can just improve the lifestyles of the community we serve, we can make a difference.”

Louis Weiner, director of the Lombardi Center, emphasized the importance of having a research center in an underserved area of the District.

“The District of Columbia has one of the highest cancer mortality rates in the nation, and racial and ethnic disparities in the cancer burden are pronounced, particularly among African-Americans,” Weiner said. “With this wonderful new office, we can more effectively partner in cancer prevention efforts within the community and engage underserved populations and identify and remove barriers to care.”

Gray also pointed out the systemic inequities in health care availability within the different parts of the city.

“We had, at last count, somewhere near 750 primary care physicians in the District of Columbia,” Gray said. “But when you go east of the [Anacostia River] in Wards 7 and 8, where 140,000 people live, there are something like 35 or 40 primary care physicians who actually practice. It’s a dramatic illustration of the additional investments that we need to make.”

The new research office is part of GUMC’s effort to resolve healthcare inequities in the community. Its research undertakings are funded in part by a $6.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

DeGioia lauded the center as an extension of Georgetown’s partnership with the District of Columbia.

“This office adds a new dimension to the range of partnerships, services and collaborations between our university and our city, ensuring that the science that is pursued by Georgetown researchers and faculty is accessible across our city,” he said.

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