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The 3rd Annual Cancer Health Disparities Retreat – hosted by the Cancer Health Disparities Group with support from the Office of Community Outreach, Engagement and Equity (COEE) –  was held through a virtual event platform on Friday, September 10. Bringing together participants from various disciplines, the gathering shone a bright light on the topic of disparities in cancer in hopes of stimulating ideas that encourage continued collaboration working toward initiating new and innovative health disparities research.

The half-day virtual event was well attended by more than 150 persons including Moffitt research and clinical faculty and support team members, academia, pharmaceutical companies, community, and partnership institutions. The retreat began with introductions from Dr. Kosj Yamoah, Dr. Patrick Hwu, and Dr. John Cleveland who provided an overview of the current and anticipated future state of health disparities research at Moffitt.

An inspiring keynote presentation rendered by Dr. Robert A. Winn, leading expert on health disparities and Director and Lipman Chair in Oncology of VCU Massey Cancer Center, emphasized the importance of community engagement and was followed by complementary testimonials from Dr. Angela Hill of USF’s WE-CARE Program and Institutional Board Member and Chair of the George Edgecomb Society, Ms. Valerie Goddard, helping to bring the influences of health disparities to the forefront from a personal perspective.

2021 virtual retreat team

New this year

New to this year’s retreat were moderated Q&A sessions with Moffitt’s leaders and faculty representing Moffitt’s research and clinical programs discussing ongoing health disparities research as well as a panel discussion led by Amanda Hollis from the Moffitt Cancer Center Foundation, with participants Dr. Susan Vadaparampil, Dr. Tiffany Wallace (NCI, CRCHD), Ms. Catharine Grimes (Bristol Myers Squibb), and Ms. Lorrin Rucker (Philanthropy) focused on health disparities research funding mechanisms and donor support. Closing out the retreat were the traditional brainstorming breakout sessions.

  • Attendance continues to increases each year, up 46% year-over-year
  • New Q&A session and panel discussion format allowed for increased interaction with attendees
  • More emphasis on community engagement

In summary

Reflecting upon the retreat, as Moffitt grows and expands its catchment area and expertise, the key takeaways include:

  • Health disparities remain a top priority of Moffitt.
  • Health disparities research should be a shared responsibility, regardless of discipline.
  • Health disparities progress is dependent upon community engagement (community-based participatory research, community outreach, services, and patient advocacy) and policy efforts (infrastructure and funding). 
  • There are many health disparities research funding mechanisms available to support large and small-scale health disparities research, internal and external to Moffitt.
  • Building trust in our community is paramount to achieving health equity.

For questions about the COEE office or additional information about community based research, or outreach and engagement, please email us at