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Sylvester Leads Massive Effort To Study Black Genomes

Building Healthier Communities

Cancer often manifests differently in the Black community, leading to thousands of early deaths. Unfortunately, cancer among Black people has been woefully understudied. But researchers at Sylvester are leading an international effort to decode Black genomes and investigate the genetic drivers behind breast, ovarian and prostate cancer. The African-Caribbean scNetwork — comprising a dream team of researchers from the U.S., the Caribbean and Africa — hopes to provide new insights into why Black people are at higher risk for aggressive cancers and often develop them at younger ages. The project is being funded through a $1.65 million award from the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation.

Sophia George PhD

“I study early events in breast and ovarian cancers, particularly what happens to cells before a woman develops cancer,” said Sophia George, Ph.D., associate director of diversity, equity and inclusion at Sylvester, and associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, who is the lead investigator on the project. “I also have a strong interest in the African diaspora and why we are more vulnerable to highly aggressive cancers. This grant will help our team combine these interests and dissect the genetic and cellular underpinnings that can lead to poor cancer outcomes.”