Community Engagement

The Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center established the Office of Health Disparities and Community Engagement (HDCE) as part of a renewed and expanded commitment to improve the health and well-being of racial, ethnic and rural area populations in Indiana. The ongoing mission of the office is to establish strong relationships with key organizations and leaders in ethnically diverse and underserved communities in order to actively engage members of those communities in research and outreach to decrease the morbidity and mortality of these groups.

Committed to the principle of partnership within our diverse communities, the HDCE fosters strategic alliances with key community and faith based organizations and the medical community to enhance their efforts and their ability to be responsive to the health related needs of their target populations. HDCE also provides leadership and technical assistance to community-based organizations to create innovative programs that will increase the public sectors access to care, lowering cancer risk factors, reducing tobacco use and increasing participation in cancer research. 

Current programs and initiatives are developed to help ensure that the IU Simon Cancer Center is responsive to the unique needs of our diverse community and are as follows: 

Indiana Black Expo’s INShape Black and Minority Health Fair: The HDCE provides cancer clinical trials education information and related activities that enhance efforts to connect individuals with research studies to the more than 40,000 individuals in attendance. In the last five years, HDCE has collected specimens from attendees to identify genetic and environmental risk factors which contribute to the development of cancer and to predict the response to therapy. 

Lowering Cancer Risk Factor Initiatives: Healthy cooking demonstrations were provided during Genessarat  Free Clinic Inc.’s Well Women gatherings and various health expositions to teach participants about the role of diet and nutrition in lowering cancer risk factors. 

Community Cancer Education Network: The HDCE developed a framework to provide cancer site specific training and education for community partners and their public sectors.  More than 2,100 people have received one-on-one-cancer-related education in health clinics since 2011. Participants also receive information about locations where they can obtain free or financially assisted screening/diagnostic services and cancer clinical trials education.

Effective Cancer Control Planning Workshops: These workshops address the needs of public health professionals seeking evidence-based resources for their cancer control planning activities.  The workshops also assist partners in developing a strategic approach to meet their educational and community outreach needs. 

Protecting Life: Preventing Cancer: This is an evidence-based program developed in conjunction with the IU Simon Cancer Center's partnership with Cervical Cancer Free Indiana to create an increase in overall knowledge of human papillomavirus and awareness around prevention methods and screening recommendations. 

IUSCC’S Health Disparities Advisory Committee: The committee is composed of dedicated health professionals and valued community leaders who serve as a critical link between the IU Simon Cancer Center and their respective communities in Indiana. The committee aims to identify effective strategies that will focus on efforts contributing to reducing cancer risks, early detection, accrual to clinical trials, and enhancing survivorship and quality of life for cancer patients.

For more information

For more information about the Office of Health Disparities and Community Engagement, contact:

Rivienne Shedd-Steele
535 Barnhill Drive, RT 455B
Indianapolis, IN 46202
(317) 278-0073