Continuity is the highlight of the work the RLAC (Research Like a Champion) team is doing as part of their ESTEEM year. This year's team is comprised of ESTEEM ‘20 candidates with diverse backgrounds in education and clinical experiences ranging from data analytics (Namrata Borah), to establishing a national cancer center (Tsion Sadore, MD), health policy and health administration (Lillian Piz) as well as clinical trial management (Farai Musariri). The team also includes Madison Heide who is ND Business Analytics ‘20 and has been with the team since 2019.
The RLAC project started as a class assignment for members of the ESTEEM Class of 2018 when high rates of lung cancer in rural Indiana were identified as a target for intervention through geospatial analysis of various indicators around lung cancer. Based on a paper by Dr. Roberto Cardarelli aimed at understanding perceptions around the adoption of lung cancer screenings in Eastern Kentucky, the project set out to explore community perspectives toward lung cancer screenings in the areas highlighted as targets in the geospatial analyses. Lung cancer screenings are done through Low Dose CT scans of the chest and have proven to be an effective early detection tool that can reduce lung cancer deaths by up to 20%.
With a RLAC research grant from the Harper Cancer Research Institute (managed by another ESTEEM alum Khoa Huynh) the project was carried forward by two ESTEEM ‘19 candidates Graeme White and Odhran Reidy, together with Madison Heide. They did a lot of heavy lifting by designing a focus group study that will allow the medical community to better understand the prevalent perceptions on lung screenings in this underserved population and how to best serve it. The team also obtained approval from the Notre Dame Institutional Review Board (IRB) to conduct the study and laid the foundation for the members of ESTEEM ‘20 to continue this noble work by establishing relationships with providers in the target counties for participant recruitment.
The current RLAC team is now in the process of recruiting the study participants from the community with plans to conduct these focus groups by winter break. They will synthesize the data they gather with hopes to publish their findings to the medical community to further public health efforts in the lung cancer space, while simultaneously designing novel lung screening awareness campaigns that can be adopted throughout rural Indiana (and nationally) to reduce lung cancer mortality rates.
Here are ESTEEM alumni who have worked on the project:
Class of 2018: Juan Cisneros, Cian O’Donnell, Claire Kleinschmidt, Marissa Koscielski
Class of 2019: Graeme White, Odhran Reidy