Community Outreach and Engagement

The Community Outreach and Engagement program promotes and facilitates community-facing research and activities for Winship Cancer Institute through programmatic initiatives across the state of Georgia.

Community Outreach and Engagement (COE) has been a fundamental activity of National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Cancer Centers since the initiation of the Cancer Centers program in 1971.

However, in an effort to ensure that cancer centers are closely tied to the communities they serve, NCI reinforced expectations that NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers will integrate community-focused cancer priorities in all Center research programs, including basic, translational, clinical, and population sciences, through Community Outreach and Engagement programmatic initiatives

The aims of the program's efforts are:

  • To assess and define the cancer burden and priorities of the community served by the cancer center (termed catchment area), which for Winship, is the entire state of Georgia.
  • To communicate, facilitate, and promote the integration of these priorities in cancer research within Emory and through bi-directional exchange of ideas with community partners, patients, and stakeholders.
  • To disseminate evidence-based interventions and promote policy impact and translation to catchment area, nationally and globally.

Program Focus

To fulfill our commitment to foster community-engaged research and disseminate best practices to reduce the cancer burden in Georgia, the Community Outreach and Engagement program:

  • Engages with key stakeholders, including researchers, healthcare providers, educators, community members, advocates, and our Community Advisory Board for input, advice, and guidance
  • Supports and facilitates Community-Academic Partnerships through community-engaged research
  • Disseminates evidence-based interventions and programs that promote healthy lifestyles, increase screening and early detection, or improve access to clinical trials
  • Advocates for Public Policy and promotes systemic changes that advance healthy equity and cancer prevention and control in Georgia

Catchment Area

As Georgia's sole NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, our catchment area is the entire state of Georgia, comprised of 159 counties that are home to more than 10.62 million residents.

Assessment data

The Winship Community Outreach and Engagement program has conducted a comprehensive assessment of the cancer burden throughout the state of Georgia, including excess cancer cases and deaths; cancers associated with risk factors such as obesity and tobacco use; rates of adherence to evidence-based interventions that reduce cancer risk (e.g., HPV vaccination) or detect cancer early (e.g., lung cancer screening), and highlight the needs of special populations in Georgia, including those living in rural areas, and people living with HIV.

The following data highlights the state's cancer burden and Winship's priorities for cancer prevention, research and control.

Community Engaged Research

Engaging the community in all types and phases of cancer research brings important societal issues and the lived experience of Georgians to the forefront, informing scientists in ways that lead to studies that are more responsive to the needs of Georgia communities. Engaging community members as partners in research helps foster a collaborative and ethical foundation for scientific discovery and therefore is a high priority for Winship.

Resource guide for researchers and community-based organizations

This resource guide, developed by the Winship Community Outreach and Engagement program, is designed for researchers and community organizations that are considering entering into a research partnership, but have little or no experience in community-engaged research. The information provided serves as a starting point for developing a foundation for strong community/academic partnerships to support high quality research that benefits both the researcher and the community.

Regional Cancer Coalitions of Georgia

The Regional Cancer Coalitions of Georgia serve as gateways to cancer prevention and control resources. Based in Albany, Athens, Columbus, Macon, and Rome, these non-profit community organizations work hand in hand to provide cancer prevention, screening, and care coordination services throughout Georgia, with a special emphasis on rural and other underserved communities. Visit their website to learn more about the Regional Cancer Coalition serving your area.

Additional resources

Here we provide access to a number of resources that may be useful to researchers, program planners, healthcare professionals and their patients and caregivers including:

Cancer Infographics

We want our community partners to have readily available data to help make informed decisions related to program planning. As a result, we have developed infographics for the top 10 cancers in Georgia coupled with information about risk factors, people living with HIV, and rural Georgia. The infographics may also be shared with the local community you serve to bring further awareness. Various infographics are available for download below as ZIP files.

Find Cancer Screening Locations in Georgia

Regular cancer screenings are important for detecting cancer early when it's easier to treat and before it causes symptoms. There are screenings available for breast, cervical, colorectal, lung and prostate cancers. Your Connection to Early Detection is an online tool to help you find Georgia cancer screening locations close to home.

Community Advisory Board

The Community Outreach and Engagement program's Community Advisory Board, chaired by former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, has as its primary role to advise program leadership on the cancer-related needs of Georgians and provide input on Winship's research agenda from the perspective of the community. The 20-member advisory board consists of community leaders and stakeholders represent the state of Georgia.

Georgia Cancer Summit

The 2024 Georgia Cancer Summit was held on January 24 with the theme, Advancing Cancer Health Equity through Innovation and Partnerships, and brought together more than 125 public health professionals, health care providers, health advocates, researchers, and community organizations involved in community-engaged cancer research, control and prevention from across the state of Georgia.

The Georgia Cancer Summit is co-hosted by Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, Georgia Cancer Control Consortium, Georgia CORE, and the Georgia Department of Public Health. Partners in this effort include the American Cancer Society, Georgia Cancer Center, Georgia Rural Health Association, Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center, Regional Cancer Coalitions of Georgia, Phoebe Cancer Center, and the Lewis Cancer and Research Pavilion.

Follow us on social media

The Community Outreach and Engagement program provides information and resources for the community via social media. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Request Services

To request a service or consultation, please complete our online interest form. You will be contacted by a member of our team shortly after submitting this form.

Theresa W. Gillespie, PhD, MA, BSN, FAAN

Associate Director for Community Outreach and Engagement
Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University

Dr. Gillespie provides vision and oversight for Winship's community-facing activities through its Community Outreach and Engagement program.

Jessica Wells, PhD, FAAN

Assistant Director for Community Outreach and Engagement
Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University

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