Public health professor earns $2.6 million grant

A public health professor has been awarded a $2.6 million grant to conduct a cervical cancer prevention field study in Peru.

Patti Gravitt, a global health professor at the Milken Institute School of Public Health, will act as principal researcher in a five-year project funded by the National Cancer Institute. Gravitt and her team will travel to the Loreto region of Peru to study how cervical cancer screening and treatment can be simplified and improved, according to a release.

Together with her research team, Gravitt will ask women in the region between the ages of 18 and 64 to be placed on a cervical cancer screening registry to monitor who is being screened and why. Researchers will then review obstacles to screening with local leaders to find the kinds of tests that will remove most of those barriers, according to the release.

The team plans to establish a certain system in the Loreto region and then compare its effectiveness to the systems used in the rest of the country, the release states. Gravitt’s team will include researchers from Tulane and Johns Hopkins universities.

Incidences of cervical cancer are twice as high in Peru as the national average largely due to the lack of widespread pap screenings, according to the release. Younger Peruvian girls are now starting to receive the vaccination, but older generations of women are still at increased risk.

“At some point, screenings might not be needed,” Gravitt said in the release. “But we’ve got these generations of women who will not benefit from vaccination and we want to find practical solutions to reduce the burden of cervical cancer now.”

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