Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center

Partner In Research

Contact Us at 833-722-6237

There are two ways to partner in research with Simmons Cancer Center. You can serve as a research advocate, offering your perspective to improve community engagement in cancer research. Or you can apply for a grant that pairs your organization with Simmons researchers to solve an important cancer problem in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Become a Research Advocate

Our research advocates are a diverse group of community volunteers who bring the lay perspective to cancer research. They help UT Southwestern scientists design studies that are sensitive to the patient experience, including cultural needs. Advocates also help our researchers share their discoveries in ways that are meaningful to the community and foster trust.

Specific research advocate duties include:

  • Attending monthly trainings on cancer research and advocacy
  • Giving feedback to researchers on grant proposals or study design and implementation
  • Offering suggestions on how to remove barriers to study participation and increase participation among a diverse range of participants
  • Writing letters of support for researchers who are applying for grants
  • Providing input on informed consent documents
  • Developing patient education materials
  • Coordinating delivery of research findings to community members and ensuring lay-friendly communication
  • Raising public awareness of cancer clinical trials
  • Promoting Simmons’ research advocacy program to UT Southwestern faculty and staff

If you are a cancer patient, former patient, family member, caregiver, or concerned community member interested in becoming a research advocate, please contact the Office of Community Outreach, Engagement, and Equity at OfficeofCOEE@UTSouthwestern.edu or call 833-722-6237.

Apply for a Community-Engaged Research Grant

Simmons Cancer Center periodically awards grants in community-engaged research. In this type of research, Simmons faculty members are paired with community organizations in shared efforts to reduce cancer rates among at-risk populations.

Awards include up to $100,000, delivered over an 18-month period, for basic/laboratory, translational, clinical, or population research focused on:

  • Cancers occurring most frequently and/or causing the highest death rates in the Dallas-Fort Worth area
  • Cancers affecting some groups of people more than others because of social, environmental, and/or economic disadvantages

Types of Research

  • Basic research studies how cancer develops and progresses in people.
  • Translational research moves new treatments from the laboratory to the clinic and takes observations from the clinic to design new treatments in the laboratory.
  • Clinical research uses data from people or samples of tissue to find new and better ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, and treat cancer.
  • Population research seeks to understand factors that impact health and cause cancer in various populations and to determine the best strategies for preventing cancer, detecting it early, and improving the patient experience.

Projects may relate to any aspect of the cancer care continuum − from prevention and screening to treatment and survivorship. However, proposals must reflect community input and/or involvement in project design, implementation, analysis, communication of findings, and recommendations for future study.

Simmons welcomes organizations of all types as research collaborators. We consider faith-based organizations, clinics and health care systems, for-profit businesses, nonprofit entities, schools, neighborhood centers, and chambers of commerce as potential partners.

For more information on submitting a research proposal or finding a UT Southwestern research partner, please email OfficeofCOEE@UTSouthwestern.edu or call 833-722-6237.

Meet our latest grant awardees:

Read the results of the telehealth research partnership between UT Southwestern and The Senior Source.

Find out how UT Southwestern is working with other community members to strengthen community health:

Community-Assisted Research (CARE) Food Bank Access Initiative

CARE faculty from UT Southwestern and the University of Dallas are on a mission to ensure that all households, especially the low-income and underserved, can meet their basic needs. To accomplish this goal, CARE collaborates with Crossroads Community Services, a Dallas nonprofit that supplies nutritious food and supportive education through an effective, efficient, and equitable charitable food distribution system. CARE uses Crossroads-rich client data to identify unmet needs, underlying barriers, and opportunities to improve food pantry service delivery.

Crossroads determined that the traditional "food bank-food pantry member" model posed access barriers in Dallas County. Access barriers include a limited number of food pantries, often many miles away from food insecure families and individuals who need more nutritious food, and a limited capacity of many food pantries to provide substantial amounts of food to each household. For community members with limited transportation, time constraints, and/or health challenges, it can be difficult to travel to a centralized food pantry.

Crossroads replaced the traditional centralized food bank-member pantry model with a “community distribution partner” (CDP) model. The new CDP model extends the reach of food distribution across a larger geographic area by engaging a myriad of organizations who want to nourish their neighbors but do not want to become a full-fledged pantry operation. CDPs are local entities that re-distribute food from convenient locations in clients’ neighborhoods. They include community centers, places of worship, public housing sites, and other non-profits whose core mission is not feeding people.

Through community-academic partnership and peer-reviewed grant funding, CARE researchers and Crossroads staff collected and analyzed research data. Their analysis showed that the novel CDP model improved:

  • Access to charitable food,
  • Regularity of client receipt of groceries,
  • Food security, and
  • Social support of clients.
Population-Based Biorepositories

Recognizing the need for biorepositories (biospecimen libraries) that represent all populations – including racial and ethnic minorities who experience undue health burdens, struggle to access health care, and face significant life stressors – UT Southwestern researchers talked with Parkland Memorial Hospital’s diverse Community Advisory Panel to explore member interest in a Parkland biorepository.   

Panel members liked the idea of having a positive impact on the health of their families and individual communities by participating in a biorepository. They shared insights on how best to build trust with potential donors and facilitate ongoing participation in the biobank. 

Read more about the Parkland biobank.

HPV Vaccination Environmental Scan

In 2018, UT Southwestern researchers interviewed 29 health care professionals and thought leaders from seven Dallas-Fort Worth counties to solicit their feedback on increasing HPV vaccination through coalition-building. Findings led to a “best practices” report for researchers, educators, and health care providers who want to engage successfully with vaccine-hesitant parents. 

See recommendations for coalition-building.

See how UT Southwestern and Simmons Cancer Center are delivering results for Texas.

Connect with the Cancer Center