July 7, 2021:

Within the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium, disease-specific Clinical Trial Working Groups are largely focused on developing novel therapeutics to treat and ultimately cure disease. The Big Ten CRC’s Population Science Working Group, led by co-chairs Sharon Manne, PhD, of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and Electra Paskett, PhD, of The Ohio State University, has a different goal: To develop and implement population-based research within the Big Ten CRC.

“The ultimate goal of our working group is to develop and implement research that reduces the cancer burden in the Big Ten,” said Dr. Manne (pictured left), Chief of Behavioral Sciences and co-Director of the Center of Excellence in Cancer Survivorship at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. “In addition to implementing multi-site behavioral and epidemiological research collaborations that will evaluate and reduce cancer burden, we will foster collaboration between junior and senior investigators in population research.”

Cancer population science research spans general population risk as well as care delivered to cancer survivors, including end of life. This work can focus on identifying the risk factors for cancer on the individual (cancer prevention practices, genetic factors), health system (lack of access to prevention), and even on the environmental level (air pollution). Cancer population science seeks to reduce inequities in and improve the quality of cancer prevention. This work also focuses on improving cancer care delivery, quality of life among individuals diagnosed with cancer and their family, cancer survivorship care, and end of life experiences for patients and their families.

“If we’re really going to make a dent on cancer, we’ve got to include population science,” said Dr. Paskett (pictured right), the Marion N. Rowley Chair in Cancer Research and director of the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control in the Department of Internal Medicine at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and Associate Director for Population Sciences and Community Outreach in the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. “We look at what causes the cancer, we look at quality of life, we look at how to get people into screening, how to get people to stop smoking, and get people to receive flu vaccines. It is that whole continuum.

Dr. Manne and Dr. Paskett bring extensive experience from programs implemented at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James), respectively. Dr Manne established Rutgers Cancer Institute’s Cancer Prevention and Control Program as a national leader in cancer prevention and control over the 10-year period she served as both Program Leader (2010-2018) and Associate Director of Cancer Prevention, Control, and Population Science (2013-2020). She recently stepped down from these roles to found the Center of Excellence in Cancer Survivorship at Rutgers Cancer Institute. Dr. Paskett launched the Cancer Control program at OSUCCC-James in 2002. The program conducts research to reduce incidence, mortality, and co-morbidities related to cancer in Ohio and beyond. The program studies underserved, rural, and minority populations, and is expanding in the policy arena. She also founded the Center for Cancer Health Equity in 2002 which serves as the Community Outreach and Engagement arm of the OSUCCC.

Both Drs. Manne and Paskett began their careers in population science at a time when the field was just was taking off. Dr. Manne, who received her doctorate from Arizona State University and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, trained under Jimmie Holland, MD, at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, who was a pioneer in the subspecialty of psycho-oncology and subsequently worked under a founder of Cancer Prevention and Control and Population Science in Comprehensive Cancer Centers, Dr. Paul Engstrom, at the Fox Chase Cancer Center. Dr. Paskett received her doctorate in cancer epidemiology from the University of Washington and worked in the first cancer prevention unit in the country, with Dr. Maureen Henderson, at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington.

As co-chairs of the Big Ten CRC’s Population Science Working Group, both Dr. Manne and Dr. Paskett share a common vision to harness the strengths of each member institution of the consortium to meet the needs of patients across all Big Ten catchment areas. More than 25 investigators currently participate in the working group. Both Drs. Manne and Paskett encourage Big Ten CRC investigators to reach out to them if they have an interest in integrating population health in their cancer research.


About the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium: The Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium was created in 2013 to transform the conduct of cancer research through collaborative, hypothesis-driven, highly translational oncology trials that leverage the scientific and clinical expertise of Big Ten universities. The goal of the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium is to create a unique team-research culture to drive science rapidly from ideas to new approaches to cancer treatment. Within this innovative environment, today’s research leaders collaborate with and mentor the research leaders of tomorrow with the unified goal of improving the lives of all patients with cancer.

About the Big Ten Conference: The Big Ten Conference is an association of world-class universities whose member institutions share a common mission of research, graduate, professional and undergraduate teaching and public service. Founded in 1896, the Big Ten has sustained a comprehensive set of shared practices and policies that enforce the priority of academics in the lives of students competing in intercollegiate athletics and emphasize the values of integrity, fairness and competitiveness. The broad-based programs of the 14 Big Ten institutions will provide over $200 million in direct financial support to more than 9,800 students for more than 11,000 participation opportunities on 350 teams in 42 different sports. The Big Ten sponsors 28 official conference sports, 14 for men and 14 for women, including the addition of men’s ice hockey and men’s and women’s lacrosse since 2013. For more information, visit www.bigten.org.