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Special Populations Networks (SPN)

Active Date: 2000-2005

The Special Population Networks (SPN) evolved from NCI leadership in the 1990s to address the disproportionate burden of cancer among certain population groups in the U.S., specifically African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and Appalachians. SPN was launched by CRCHD in 2000 with a goal of building robust and sustainable infrastructures within minority and medically underserved communities to promote cancer awareness, conduct cancer control research, initiate cancer control activities, and promote the career development of minority junior biomedical and behavioral researchers.

Quick Facts

  • SPN awarded 18 five-year cooperative agreements in 15 states designed to reach major racial/ethnic minority populations with cancer information, including African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asians, and Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, as well as other underserved populations.
  • Under the mentorship of SPN principal investigators, junior SPN researchers conducted pilot cancer control research projects in collaboration with community-based partners, then developed research grant applications based on the pilot project findings.
  • Upon the completion of the SPN Program, CRCHD established the Community Networks Program (CNP) to build on the accomplishments of the SPN to reduce cancer health disparities at the community level.

Program Achievements

  • The SPN Program established sustainable community partnerships with large research institutions. Eighteen SPN projects were successful in:
    1. Establishing a continuum of culturally appropriate cancer awareness and education activities;
    2. Conducting community-based cancer control and prevention research;
    3. Training junior minority investigators.
  • In the five years of the SPN, grantees:
    • Created more than 300 formal partnerships with community-based organizations;
    • Conducted more than 1,000 cancer awareness activities;
    • Trained more than 2,000 community and lay health workers in cancer awareness and cancer control;
    • Trained and mentored more than 150 researchers from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds;
    • Launched the research careers of first-time investigators from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds and obtained NCI funding for more than 100 of their pilot research projects;
    • Leveraged CRCHD funding by obtaining in excess of $20.5 million from additional sources for training, cancer awareness, and research activities (including $6 million for cancer awareness activities, $7 million for research in special populations, and $7 million for training minority researchers).

Read more about SPN program achievements

SPN Project Phases

Each SPN project was carried out in three phases.

Phase I: Capacity Building (Year 1)

  • Launched a variety of cancer awareness activities within targeted communities and community groups who worked with private- and public-sector organizations to develop project plans.
  • Established cancer awareness and education activities, and built a community infrastructure for research participation.
  • Publicized benefits to communities serving as partners in cancer control research.

Phase II: Structuring Formal Partnerships (Years 2-3)

  • Established formal partnerships with research organizations, educational institutions, and clinical group and developed plans for community pilot projects.
  • Increased participation of racially and ethnically diverse individuals in clinical trials; enhanced research training opportunities for junior scientists from underrepresented backgrounds as well as community-based partners; and facilitated planning and pursuit of pilot research projects in collaboration with research partners.

Phase III: Partnerships Develop Into Community-Based Cancer Control Consortia (Years 4-5)

  • Used information from pilot projects to develop ongoing investigator-initiated research grant applications and to enhance the infrastructure developed in earlier phases.
  • Organized partnerships into ongoing community-based "consortia" that are actively engaged in a spectrum of pilot research projects and committed to sustaining cancer awareness and control activities.

Project Listing

Project Title & Location Principal Investigator Population Served

American Indian Initiative in Arizona
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ

Lobell, Michael M.D.

American Indian

Appalachia Cancer Network (ACN)
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY

Wyatt, Stephen D.M.D.


Arkansas Special Populations Access Network (ASPAN)
University of Arkansas
Little Rock, AR

Henry-Tillman, Ronda M.D.


Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness Research and Training (AANCART)
University of California Davis
Sacramento, CA

Chen, Jr., Moon S. Ph.D., M.P.H


Asian Tobacco Education and Cancer Awareness Research Initiative (ATECAR)
Temple University
Philadelphia, PA

Ma, Grace Ph.D.


Cancer Awareness Network for Immigrant Minority Populations (CANIMP)
New York University School of Medicine
New York, NY

Gany, Francesca M.D.


Deep South Network for Cancer Control
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Birmingham, AL

Partridge, Edward E. M.D.

African American

East Harlem Partnership for Cancer Awareness
Mount Sinai School of Medicine of NYU
New York, NY

Redd, William H. Ph.D.


Greater Denver Latino Cancer Prevention/Control Network
University of Colorado
Denver, CO

Flores, Estevan Ph.D.


'Imi Hale, the Native Hawaiian Cancer Research and Training Network
Papa Ola Lokahi
Honolulu, HI

Chong, Clayton M.D.

Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander

Increasing Access to Clinical and Educational Studies (ACES)
Thomas Jefferson University
Philadelphia, PA

Myers, Ronald E. Ph.D.

African American

Latin American Cancer Research Coalition
Medstar Research Institute
Washington, DC

Huerta, Elmer E. M.D., M.P.H.


Maryland Special Populations Cancer Network
University of  Maryland, Baltimore
Baltimore, MD

Baquet, Claudia M.D.

African American

National Black Leadership-Cancer Control, Research & Training Network (NBL-CCRTN)
Morehouse School of Medicine
Atlanta, GA

Satcher, David, M.D., Ph.D.

African American

The Network for Cancer Control Research Among American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) Populations
Mayo Clinic, College of Medicine
Rochester, MN

Kaur, Judith S. M.D.

Native American/Alaska Native

Pacific Islander Cancer Control Network (PICCN)
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA

Hubbell, F. Allan M.D.

Samoan/Pacific Islander

Redes En Acción
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, TX

Ramirez, Amelie G. Dr. P.H.


Special Populations Network for Cancer Control (SPNCC)
Thomas Jefferson University
Philadelphia, PA

Mitchell, Edith M.D.


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