Key takeaways from the the Center for Young Adult Cancer Survivorship annual report, which had its start with a CTSI grant

by Emily Lai — July 11, 2023

Approximately 90,000 young adults and 15,000 children and teens are diagnosed with primary cancer each year in the United States. With five-year aggregate survival rates now over 84% for both groups, there are more long-term survivors than ever before.

The Southern California Center for Young Adult Cancer Survivorship Research is an interdisciplinary research collaborative comprising affiliated clinical and research faculty, staff, trainees, and patient advocates at the University of Southern California and the University of California, Irvine. The center's research focuses on population health, health services and systems, wellbeing, quality of life, and medical outcomes among young cancer survivors through middle age.

“Young adult cancer survivors are a highly vulnerable group,” said Kimberly A. Miller, PhD, MPH. “Having a cancer diagnosis when you’re young can derail your life in so many ways. Knowing that our research can help play a role in the development of age-tailored supportive services or identify ways that young cancer survivors can obtain the healthcare they need is very meaningful work.”

Miller is an Associate Professor in the Department of Population and Public Health Sciences and one of three founding co-directors.

The 2022 Annual Report for the Southern California Center for Young Adult Cancer Survivorship Research was recently published, and outlines the major accomplishments of the Center, which was launched in 2019 with two team-building grants from SC CTSI.

Center Co-directors David R. Freyer, DO, MS, Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Medicine, and Population and Public Health Sciences and Joel Milam, PhD, Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, Irvine described the inception of the project:

“The SC CTSI provided crucial start-up funding that made it possible to launch this Center. When Drs. Miller, Milam and I first conceptualized the Center, we applied for our first SC CTSI Team Building Grant with the explicit goal of developing this Center. The funding enabled us to convene interested USC investigators to develop the Center’s fundamental goals, scope, organization, and steps forward.”

Southern California Center for Young Adult Cancer Survivorship Research Co-Directors

The team invited an academic expert in team-building to facilitate a workshop with investigators at USC. They proceeded to meet with CTSI Director Tom Buchanan, MD and Janet Stoeckert, who provided valuable guidance in applying for formal designation by USC as an academic center. USC approved their application in February 2019 and with that, the Center was born.

After further consultation with Buchanan, the team applied for and received an SC CTSI Team Building Grant Renewal, which enabled the team to fund a modest but crucial amount of administrative support for Center-wide communication. Since the Center spans multiple institutions, this support was critical.

“I get to work with a wonderful, collaborative, and supportive team. We support one another. We help grow the knowledge base and the next generation of scientists focused on this area. It is very rewarding,” said Dr. Milam.

“It has been extremely gratifying to see our research priorities and efforts validated through being awarded several NIH-funded grants to do this work,” Freyer added.

With its mission to study and improve health outcomes for young adult cancer survivors, the Center has created an inclusive, interdisciplinary research collaborative focused on better understanding and addressing the unique needs of this growing population.

NIH Funding Acknowledgment: Important - All publications resulting from the utilization of SC CTSI resources are required to credit the SC CTSI grant by including the NIH funding acknowledgment and must comply with the NIH Public Access Policy.