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July 14, 2016

Maine Med lands $5M grant to fight lung cancer

Courtesy/ Maine Medical Center Dr. Paul Han, director of the Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation at the MMC Research Institute, will serve as principal investigator for the Maine LungCAPS Initiative.

Maine Medical Center will be using a $5 million grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation to create a statewide initiative to improve the prevention, early detection and treatment of lung cancer in Maine.

The Maine Lung Cancer Prevention and Screening Initiative, or Maine LungCAPS, is a four-year, multi-institution, multi-disciplinary collaboration of Maine health care providers and stakeholders to reduce incidence rates and deaths due to lung cancer in the state, which are among the highest in the nation, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Maine’s high smoking rate, our rural nature and barriers to health care all contribute to high cancer rates,” said Tara Hill, executive director of the Maine Cancer Foundation, the primary co-funder of the project with a grant of $400,000 over four years. “Over a quarter of Maine’s cancer patients have lung cancer. The case for MCF to co-fund this initiative was obvious and compelling.”

The Maine Economic Improvement Fund, through the University of Southern Maine, will contribute $200,000 to the project as well.

Dr. Paul Han, director of the Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation at the MMC Research Institute, will serve as principal investigator for the initiative.

“The Maine LungCAPS Initiative will develop the infrastructure and inter-institutional collaboration required to expand access to evidence-based lung cancer prevention and screening services, and to facilitate earlier and more effective treatment of lung cancer for patients across the state,” Han said in a release announcing the grant.

The project will begin in the summer of 2016 and will target individuals at the highest risk of cancerm namely, adult smokers living in rural communities with limited access to health care.

Han said the initiative will test innovative strategies to reach adult smokers, including using both community health workers and telemedicine technology to provide lung cancer prevention and screening services for residents of rural communities.

The Maine LungCAPS Initiative’s major partners include: MaineGeneral Prevention Center, MaineHealth Center for Tobacco Independence, Maine Quality Counts, American Lung Association of the Northeast, American Cancer Society, University of Southern Maine Muskie School of Public Service, Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, Maine Public Health Association and statewide health care providers and advocacy organizations.

These partner organizations will work together to educate health professionals, patients and community members about lung cancer prevention and screening and also develop effective ways of providing these services.

John Damonti, president of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, said in the grant announcement that one goal of the initiative is “to develop and validate innovative models for access and utilization of lung cancer screening, treatment and care that are effective and sustainable for vulnerable populations throughout Maine.”

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