Community Health Educator
Julie Dang, M.P.H., C.H.E.S., is the AANCART Community Health Educator (CHE) for the NCI's Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities National Outreach Network (NON). Working at grantee sites, CHE's play a pivotal role in cultivating relationships among the grantee institutions, NCI, researchers, and the community. Along with a master's degree, CHEs have an understanding of NCI programs and research, access to the latest cancer information, and experience in cancer control, communications, outreach, training, program planning, and evaluation. They work as the liaison among the researchers, partners, and community to identify areas of need, and develop, adapt, and disseminate health promotion/cancer education materials that are culturally tailored to the specific needs of communities.
Biospecimen Contribution In Asian American Communities
Personalized medicine cannot be achieved without the public’s willingness to contribute biospecimens for cancer research and their support for the research being conducted. In many cases, the historical and cultural mistrust by racial/ethnic minorities in biomedical research stem from the adverse legacy of uninformed consent in communities of color; from Tuskegee to the Havasupai Indians, these events have amplified the disconnect between researchers and these minority communities. Engaging these communities in biospecimen contribution for cancer research requires: time, trust and talent. For sustained and respectful relationships, collecting blood biospecimens must be viewed as mutually beneficial and not as a one-sided effort. These collaborations should build community capacity to not only understand the value of biospecimens for cancer research but also advocate for their need. Researchers should commit to investing the time necessary to developing community relationships and earning community trust. Simultaneously, educational outreach efforts need to be ethnically- specific, linguistically diverse, culturally appropriate and cognitively empowering. Building upon the past decade of the NCI funded Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness, Research and Training (AANCART)’s foundation of trust and service with the Asian American community, researchers were able to leverage relationships to not only introduce the idea of biospecimen contribution to the community, but to also exceed our expectations in collecting blood biospecimens from Asian Americans.