National Meeting on Precision Medicine and Cancer in American Indian & Alaska Native Communities

Precision medicine is an emerging approach for cancer and chronic disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, tissue and tumor profiles, environment, and lifestyle for each person. Many American Indian and Alaska Native communities suffer disproportionately from cancer. To understand how research and precision medicine can inform cancer needs in these communities the Stephenson Cancer Center at the University of Oklahoma will host a meeting to dialogue with researchers and community partners in Oklahoma City, OK, on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016.

GUEST SPEAKERS include Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) and Dr. Douglas Lowy, Acting Director of the National Cancer Institute. The primary group of invitees will be scientists and community partners at NCI-designated cancer centers.

AUDIENCE Due to broad interest, the invitees are expanded to include cancer center directors, cancer program directors, cancer researchers, tribal and AI/AN partners and communities.


Bobbby Saunkeah, RN, MSHCE, CIP

Cheryl Willman, MD

David Wetter, PhD

Denise Dillard, PhD

Dorothy Rhoades, MD

Judith Kaur, MD

Linda Burhansstipanov, MSPH, DrPH

Mark Doescher, MD, MSPH

Paul Spicer, PhD

Sanya Springfield, PhD


Shobha Srinivasan, PhD

Claire Turmelle

Wade Williams, PhD



Dr. Douglas Lowy

National Cancer Institute


Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04)

US House of Representatives


Please click on the agenda items below for more information about specific sessions including learning objectives, session facilitators, and location.

Registration and Check-In

Registration and check-in will begin at 7:30 am. Please follow the signs to the Auditorium lobby on level 2.

A light breakfast spread will be available for all conference attendees.


Samis Education Center

Robert Mannel, MD

Welcome & Opening Remarks


Samis Education Center, Auditorium

Robert Mannel, MD

Priorities: Cancer Disparities in AI/AN Communities

Session I Leads: Dorothy Rhoades, MD (Overview); Linda Burhansstipanov, MSPH, DrPH (Facilitator)

The goal of Session I is to identify priorities in cancer research among AI/AN. The 15-minute overview (Rhoades) will include:

  1. Review national and regional differences in leading cancers among AI/AN
  2. Brief introduction to new direction in cancer research: Precision Medicine
  3. Brief introduction to tribal sovereignty, cultural considerations, and research design

A facilitated discussion (Burhansstipanov) will focus on setting the priorities of cancer research among AI/AN communities. The following list includes questions to consider as possible priorities to participants. This list may also stimulate discussion identifying other research issues relevant to AI/ANs.

  1. Disparities: What are cancer research priorities that have the potential to reduce disparities within AI/ANs? (E.g., how are excessive obesity, diabetes, tobacco use practices truly impacted by ongoing research interventions?)
  2. Environment: How can research about environmental exposures in AI/AN communities explain or contribute to the increases in cancer and other chronic diseases?
  3. Access to quality care: How can research interventions improve AI/AN communities’ access to timely cancer screening, diagnosis, treatment, and quality of life after a cancer diagnosis?
  4. Clinical Trials: How might cancer clinical trials recruitment protocols be modified to include more AI/ANs? (E.g., high blood pressure excludes many AIANs from clinical trials.)


Samis Education Center, Auditorium


All conference attendees are invited to take a 30-minute break. Refreshments will be provided.


Samis Education Center

Remarks by Dr. Douglas Lowy, Director of the National Cancer Institute


Samis Education Center, Auditorium

Principles: Partnerships for AI/AN Cancer Resarch

Session II Leads: Denise Dillard, MD (Overview ); Francine Romero Gachupin, PhD (Facilitator)

The goal of this session,Led by Dr. Denise Dillard and Dr. Francine Romero Gachupin, is to discuss elements of successful partnerships for cancer research in AI/AN communities. It will begin with a 15-minute overview of a successful research partnership followed by a facilitated discussion among attendees.

The 15-minute overview (Dillard) will:

  1. Provide a description of how a research department within a tribally owned/operated health care organization is partnering with AI/AN communities as an example of CBPR.
  2. Highlight three themes of tribal governance of research projects and data, rebuilding trust, and capacity building.

Facilitated discussion (Gachupin) will include:

  • Transition from service programs to innovative research: How can AI/AN service, evaluation or pilot efforts successfully evolve into innovative, competitive and culturally appropriate research studies?
  • CBPR: Which community-based participatory research (CBPR) principles are touted but not fully applied to AI/AN research studies and how can these issues be avoided in the future? What resources or capacity would need to be added or built?


Samis Education Center, Auditorium

Lunch (Provided)

All conference attendees are invited to enjoy a boxed lunch at the Samis Education Center. Options will be provided in consideration of requested dietary restrictions.


Samis Education Center

New Initiatives: What are the Challenges and Opportunities in Cancer Precision Medicine and How Can It Inform the Needs of Our Communities to Reduce Cancer Risk and Overcome Cancer Disparities?

Session III
Leads: Cheryl Willman, MD (Overview); Judith Kaur, MD (Facilitator)

The goals of the overview (Willman) are to provide:

  1. A brief update of the capabilities of cancer precision medicine to detect cancer-promoting mutations, which may vary among populations and communities across the world.
  2. A brief update of the capability of cancer precision medicine to detect evidence of specific environmental exposures related to cancer causation.
  3. Examples where new precision medicine diagnostics, including cancer genome sequencing as well as other technologies, can be used to improve cancer outcomes by developing new and more effective treatments for cancer patients in all communities.

Facilitated discussion (Kaur) will be an opportunity for extensive discussion of the challenges and needs for implementing cancer precision medicine in American Indian and Alaskan Native Nations and communities. This list of proposed discussion questions is provided for you to consider your perspective regarding new precision medicine capabilities, to determine if these capabilities are an important priority for your community, and to develop a framework for appropriate collaborative partnerships.

  • Cancer Precision Medicine and Genome Sequencing: What are your concerns regarding these new technologies and their use in your community? How can they be used, in a non-discriminatory way, to empower our communities to overcome cancer health disparities?
  • Frameworks for Collaborative Research: What considerations and requirements would you propose for such studies, given tribal sovereignty but also the rights of individual community members? Such considerations may include:
    • The development of appropriate informed consents, legal agreements regarding the conduct of precision medicine and research, and conditions of data sharing plans between Tribal Nations and institutions/groups conducting precision medicine for health care delivery and future research. Are their best practices and examples?
    • Appropriate informed consent for use of biospecimens used for diagnostics/research.
    • Ownership of data generated from such collaborative studies.
    • Joint reporting of data generated from such studies.
  • Education and Training: How can we facilitate education, training, and engagement in these new areas of science and medicine for:
    • AI/AN tribal leaders and community members?
    • AI/AN youth and students to become experts in these areas of science and medicine and the capability to lead the clinical and research efforts in their communities?
  • Integrative Medicine: How can we integrate the practices of traditional Indian Medicine with cancer precision medicine in respectful ways to assure a holistic approach to quality cancer care?
  • Sustainable Funding: How do we identify the funding to implement new precision medicine, programs, and infrastructure in our communities?


Samis Education Center, Auditorium

Hotel Information

The recommended conference hotel is located on the Oklahoma Health Center campus - within walking distance of the pre-conference dinner and the conference.

Embassy Suites - Downtown / Medical Center

741 N Phillips Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73104
(405) 239-3900
0.5 mi from Samis Education Center

$97 / Government (Federal and State Rates)
Group Code: SCG

$139 / Non-Government Rate
Group Code: SCC

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Samis Education Center
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
Oklahoma City, OK

Download our walking map showing Samis Education Center, Embassy Suites and Stephenson Cancer Center below!



Stephenson Cancer Center

800 NE 10TH ST.