Led by Dr. Sora Tanjasiri, professor and chair of health science, the Weaving an Islander Network for Cancer Awareness, Research, and Training (WINCART) Center is comprised of six community-based organizations and researchers from three universities. The goal of the WINCART Center is to reduce disparities in cancer incidence and mortality among Chamorro, Marshallese, Native Hawaiian, Samoan, Tongan, and other Pacific Islanders in Southern California.

The Center conducts research, training, implementation, and evaluation of community-based education to promote beneficial biomedical and behavioral procedures. Research areas include tobacco cessation intervention research with late adolescents and young adults; attitudes toward the collection of biospecimens among adults; and culturally-tailored health promotion regarding obesity and physical activity.

With funding from the National Cancer Institute’s Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities, the project’s other participants include USC and Claremont Graduate University. In addition, the WINCART network includes numerous Pacific Islander-serving community-based agencies: Guam Communications Network, Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance, Pacific Islander Health Partnership, Samoan National Nurses Association, Tongan Community Service Center/Special Service for Groups, Inc., and Union of Pan Asian Communities.

“What we’re trying to do is not only increase everyone’s health, but close the gap in health care so that underserved populations obtain the same level of treatment,” Dr. Tanjasiri says. She estimates there are more than 100,000 Pacific Islanders living in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties.