Contact: Vicky Agnew
MUSC Hollings Cancer Center
843-792-0376 or


Hughes-Halbert Holds the AT&T Distinguished Endowed Chair in Cancer Equity in MUSC's Hollings Cancer Center and the SmartState Center of Economic Excellence Endowed Chair in Cancer Disparities

February 1, 2012, Charleston, SC: Chanita Hughes-Halbert, PhD, one of the country's leading researchers in health disparities research, has joined the Medical University of South Carolina. Hughes-Halbert brings extensive experience and a significant body of novel research in health disparities for cancer and other major diseases.

Hughes-Halbert, a professor in MUSC's Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, has been named to the AT&T Distinguished Endowed Chair in Cancer Equity in Hollings Cancer Center and the SmartState Center of Economic Excellence Endowed Chair in Cancer Disparities. She joins MUSC from the University of Pennsylvania where she was director of Community-Based Research & Health Disparities; and the Community and Diversity Initiative at the Abramson Cancer Center.

"MUSC and Hollings are strongly committed to addressing cancer equity issues in a state with an ethnically diverse population and, as a result, marked disparities in disease and healthcare outcomes across all populations," Hughes-Halbert said. "Hollings is one of the few cancer centers I've seen with disparities as such a priority. MUSC has the potential to serve as a national model on minority health issues."
Hughes-Halbert said her work at MUSC and statewide will include incorporating basic behavioral science exploring how patients make treatment decisions; developing partnerships statewide that increase minority access to care; improving access to technology that enhances delivery of care; and raising health literacy across all populations.

This Cancer Disparities Center of Economic Excellence will increase prostate cancer screening and early detection among African-American men. Despite the fact that prostate cancer mortality rates in South Carolina are three times greater for African-Americans than for Caucasians, African-Americans are significantly underrepresented in prostate cancer clinical trials. A common barrier to the development of new knowledge for medical problems affecting racially and ethnically diverse populations is the ability to enroll diverse patients in medical research. 

The SmartState Endowed chairs will conduct prostate cancer clinical trials and examine aspects of obesity and lifestyle modifications as contributing factors to prostate cancer. They will also examine factors that influence the screening and treatment of African-American men. The AT&T Foundation provided a $1 million gift to MUSC to provide free prostate cancer screenings and treatment advice and education to 500 African-Americans in South Carolina.

Undergraduate students from the three HBCUs will participate in research intensive summer internships in the laboratories of senior prostate cancer research scientists at Hollings Cancer Center.

  • "Dr. Hughes-Halbert's research has spanned an impressive array of topics, including screening and prevention, genetic testing and classification of groups at high risk for cancer, patient trust in healthcare providers, and survivorship. Her commitment, research acumen, and leadership skills will advance cancer disparities research and have a tangible impact on the lives of South Carolinians." Anthony J. Alberg, PhD, associate director of Cancer Prevention and Control, Hollings Cancer Center
  • "We are pleased to welcome Dr. Hughes-Halbert as the inaugural holder of the AT&T Distinguished Endowed Chair in Cancer Equity. AT&T is proud to have played a part in helping bring Dr. Hughes-Halbert to our state and we look forward to the impact she will have. The research she and her team will conduct through the Centers for Economic Excellence will make a lasting difference in the lives of individuals and families throughout South Carolina and beyond." Pamela Lackey, President of AT&T South Carolina
  • "Dr. Hughes-Halbert has conducted pioneering research in biomarker- and genetic testing in African-American women at increased risk for cancer, particularly breast and cervical. With the recruitment of Dr. Hughes-Halbert, South Carolinians gain the expertise of one of the foremost experts in advancing knowledge about the impact of cultural and ethnic factors in cancer control and prevention." Thomas W. Uhde, MD, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at MUSC.
  • "The SmartState Review Board is pleased that Dr. Hughes-Halbert has chosen to bring her research and commercialization expertise to South Carolina. We welcome her to our state. The Cancer Disparities Center of Economic Excellence, and its unique collaboration with MUSC, USC and SCSU, has already resulted in more than $15 million in non-state investment in the South Carolina economy. We are certain that Dr. Hughes-Halbert and her research team will successfully meet the unique research goals of this Center and position South Carolina as a national leader in cancer screening and prevention." Melvin Williams, SmartState Review Board Vice Chairman

About Hollings Cancer Center
Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina is a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center and the largest academic-based cancer program in South Carolina. The cancer center has more than $35 million in cancer research funding and more than 200 people are currently participating on a cancer clinical trial at Hollings Cancer Center. 

Hollings offers state-of-the-art diagnostic capabilities, therapies and surgical techniques and has multidisciplinary clinics that include surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation therapists, radiologists, pathologists, psychologists and many other specialists seeing patients under one roof. Multidisciplinary care is provided for most adult and pediatric cancers. For more information please visit