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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Institute for Global Health

Center for Global Oncology

The Center for Global Oncology is a joint center between the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University and the Institute for Global Health.


Cancer kills more people in low- and middle-income countries than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Worldwide, over 80 percent of cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, but only 5 percent of total global spending on cancer care is expended in these regions. Global oncology research is gaining significant importance at the national level as demonstrated by the establishment of the Center for Global Health at the NCI in 2011. Current national programs include those focused on Cancer Research and Networks, Cancer Control Planning and Capacity Building.

In this era of precision medicine, cutting-edge technologies in molecular and biological science have advanced our understanding of cancer etiology and development. The diverse genetic backgrounds, environmental exposures, socio-cultural practices and lifestyles represented by populations around the globe require us to collect scientific data from larger and more diverse groups of people to answer more specific questions about what causes cancer and how. In partnership with the NCI-designated Lurie Cancer Center, we can develop more targeted tools to fulfill our shared mission of controlling cancer.

By collaborating with scientists around the world, we aim to detect cancers at their early stages, thus preventing and curing cancer not only in economically developed areas, but also in low- and middle-income countries. This is particularly important in vulnerable populations, such as those with chronic viral infections and those who are genetically susceptible to carcinogenic pollutants. ”

Lifang Hou, MD, PhD, Director, Center for Global Oncology, Director of Global Health at the Lurie Cancer Center

Center Projects

Biomarkers of HIV-Associated Cancers - Nigeria

Biomarkers of HIV-Associated Cancers - Nigeria

“Epigenomic Biomarkers of HIV-Associated Cancers in Nigeria - NCI Northwestern U54 Consortium”

Faculty: Northwestern co-PIs Robert Murphy, MD, and Lifang Hou, MD, PhD

Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University was awarded this U54 grant from the NCI to establish a consortium, working in partnership with the University of Jos, University of Lagos and the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine. The joint U.S. and Nigerian consortium studies epigenetic signatures of the two most common HIV-associated cancers in Nigeria (liver and cervical cancer). The goal of this project is to improve our understanding of the role of HIV and other infections in cancer development. This will offer earlier diagnosis of premalignant and early-stage cancers and potentially lead to effective new strategies for cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Our consortium also provides training for Nigerian scientists in molecular epidemiology. This study is sponsored by National Cancer Institute.
Read the News Story on Cancer Center site
Research Training Program in HIV & Malignancies - Nigeria

Research Training Program in HIV & Malignancies - Nigeria

“Northwestern and Jos University Research Training Program in HIV and Malignancies - NCI-FIC D43”

Faculty: Northwestern co-PIs Robert Murphy, MD, and Lifang Hou, MD, PhD

Through this project, investigators are building a multidisciplinary research training program at the University of Jos and Jos University Teaching Hospital — one of the largest providers of HIV care in Africa — to build infrastructure and increase capacity for cancer epidemiology, clinical trials and translational and laboratory research on AIDS-defining malignancies here. Our goal is to significantly reduce cancer incidence and its related morbidity and mortality. This program is sponsored by National Cancer Institute and Fogarty International Center.

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Epigenetics of Early-Onset Breast Cancer

Epigenetics of Early-Onset Breast Cancer

“Epigenetics of Early-Onset Breast Cancer"

Faculty: Site PI Lifang Hou, MD, PhD

Studies show a significantly higher frequency of aggressive, early-onset breast cancer in many countries. We have ongoing pilot studies in collaborations with scientists around the world to explore the underlying epigenetic factors (DNA methylation and microRNAs) that may play an important role in the early onset of breast cancer in Lebanon and several African countries. We hope to ultimately provide novel insights into the etiology of breast cancer, particularly aggressive breast cancers, to develop point-of-care technology for the early detection of breast cancer in global health settings.

See Hou's Faculty Profile
The Microbiome & Cancer

The Microbiome & Cancer

"The Microbiome and Cancer"

The microbiome, an important modulator of inflammation and immunity, can significantly impact cancer risk as well as the efficacy of cancer therapy. Our center members are investigating the role of microbiota (i.e., cervicovaginal microbiome for cervical cancer and gut and oral microbiome for colon and liver cancers, respectively) in various populations including Asians, Africans and Middle Easterners. This work will also evaluate the influence of dietary patterns (Mediterranean vs. Western diet).
Transforming Cancer Care in Bolivia

Transforming Cancer Care in Bolivia

Northwestern Faculty: PI Rina Fox, PhD

PROMIS Bolivia, founded by Steven Schuetz, MD, is a charitable foundation whose mission is to adapt, disseminate and implement state-of-the-art science and international healthcare interventions throughout Bolivia to maximize the health outcomes of patients and their families. A delegation from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, including oncology leaders from the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, recently met with health leaders in the Plurinational State of Bolivia to begin generating cancer treatment recommendations to fit the country’s unique needs.


Learn More in the Feinberg News Center

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