LOUISVILLE, Ky. – University of Louisville and community leaders today announced the creation of a new endowed chair in oncology through Our Highest Potential, a partnership aimed at addressing issues affecting African-Americans.

    The endowed chair will focus on the disproportionately high incidence and mortality rate of lung and prostate cancer among African-Americans. The long-term goal is to identify more effective ways to reduce and treat this problem in minority populations.

    Funding for the position is coming through a pledge from the James Graham Brown Foundation for cancer research and care that was announced in January. Of the $15 million total pledge, $1 million will go toward the new chair and will be eligible for a match through Kentucky’s “bucks for brains” program.

    The scholar recruited to fill the chair will be housed in the Brown Cancer Center and will work closely with the Kentucky Cancer Program and Kentucky African-Americans Against Cancer to learn more about the genetic, socioeconomic and environmental factors that lead to disproportionate cancer rates among African-Americans. He or she also will work with U of L’s other Louisville Medical Center partners, Jewish Hospital Healthcare Services and Norton’s Healthcare Network.

    Research is likely to center on epidemiologic studies, prevention studies and studies of new treatments aimed at curing African-Americans with cancer, said Dr. Donald Miller, a U of L cancer researcher who directs the Brown Cancer Center.

    Our Highest Potential was launched in February 2001 as a two-part effort to tackle the most important issues affecting African-Americans in the Louisville area. The first endowed chair established through the program, the Bettie L. and Charlie Johnson Chair in Logistics and Distribution, was created with a $1 million gift from the Johnsons.