Respected cancer researcher takes the helm of the Louisiana Cancer Research Center
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Cancer remains a leading cause of death in Louisiana, according to the CDC, but now the state says it has a new weapon to help fight cancer.
Joe Ramos, Ph.D., a renowned cancer researcher has been tapped to lead the Louisiana Cancer Research Center in New Orleans.
“This is an urgent, urgent mission too. In those numbers are disparities in cancer incidence and survival for African Americans and other minorities,” said Ramos during a welcoming ceremony held in his honor on Tuesday (July 26).
Ramos was last at the University of Hawaii.
FOX 8 asked him about his immediate priorities as the top person at the cancer center in Louisiana.
“I need to get going on and understand the problem at the ground level here. As I said, we need to be doing research with our communities, for our communities, so making sure that we are doing the right things, so I need to understand what those things are,” said Ramos.
Healthcare professionals and other scientists spoke of the prevalence of cancer in the state.
Dr. Richard DiCarlo is Vice Chairman of the Louisiana Cancer Research Center and interim Dean of LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine.
“Dr. Ramos make no mistake we have a lot of work to do here in Louisiana. For instance, prostate cancer is the leading cancer diagnosed in Louisiana and our African American men are dying at a rate twice that of white men,” said Dr. Richard DiCarlo, Vice Chair of the Louisiana Cancer Research Center and interim dean of LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine,” said DiCarlo.
Lung and breast cancer rates in Louisiana are troubling, too.
“Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Louisiana and our death rate from lung cancer is 25% higher than the national death rate. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women in Louisiana and we rank third in the death rate from breast cancer in the country,” said DiCarlo.
With the help of Ramos, there is optimism that in time the LCRC will gain National Cancer Institute designation. NCI is part of the National Institutes of Health.
Governor John Bel Edwards talked about the goal of achieving such a designation.
“There’s not an NCI-designated center in Mississippi or Arkansas either and so we have a real opportunity to become regional cancer care designation,” said Edwards.
Like the rest of New Orleans, the cancer research center was impacted by Hurricane Katrina.
Dr. Lee Hamm is LCRC Board Chairman and Dean of Tulane’s School of Medicine.
“The LCRC lost some of its most prominent cancer researchers and was forced to rebuild basically from scratch,” said Hamm.
But in the years since Hurricane Katrina, they say there has been a lot of progress, and LSU, Tulane and Xavier Universities as well as Ochsner are involved with the center.
Reynold Verret, Ph.D., is President of Xavier University of Louisiana which is located in New Orleans.
“At Xavier, we’ve been very much committed to health and research to health disparities, especially cancer,” said Verret.
“Cancer does touch everyone but it touches the hardest those who are the most disadvantaged and that’s just the sad reality; we have too many people in Louisiana who are too disadvantaged,” said Gov. Edwards.
Ramos already has plans to catch some cancers earlier.
“There are things that we can do to catch the lung cancers earlier and so, for example, creating programs where we can get patients who are at-risk may be heavy smokers so that they can get screened before there’s any symptoms,” said Ramos.
Ramos plans a statewide tour. Meanwhile, it was stated that LSU, Tulane, Xavier, and Ochsner worked together on federally-funded cancer research projects that in 2021 served more than 2,000 patients in clinical trials in Louisiana.
See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Click Here to report it. Please include the headline.
Copyright 2022 WVUE. All rights reserved.