About CHDI

In recent decades, treatments for cancer have improved and deaths due to cancer have decreased. But unfortunately, not all Americans benefit equally from these successes. Many groups in Wisconsin and nationwide – often defined by where they live, by their income, race, ethnicity, education or sexual orientation – experience a greater burden of cancer along the continuum from prevention to detection, diagnosis, treatment, survivorship, to end-of life.

Mission & Goals

The Mission of the Cancer Health Disparities Initiative (CHDI) is to partner with communities,  UW and Carbone Cancer Center faculty to reduce inequities in cancer burden through research, outreach, education, and training.

The goals of CHDI are to:

  1. Increase cancer health disparities-related research conducted by UW Faculty and UWCCC members
  2. Implement community outreach, education, and program development and evaluation activities with underserved communities
  3. Promote increased recruitment of underrepresented populations into UWCCC clinical care and research
  4. Provide training and mentoring opportunities for UWCCC staff and trainees from underrepresented populations

CHDI Overview & History

The Cancer Health Disparities Initiative is a program of the UW Carbone Cancer Center division of Cancer Prevention and Control.  CHDI partners with Wisconsin’s underserved communities to improve the health of everyone who faces greater cancer risk.

We develop research on cancer disparities, conduct outreach and education activities with rural, African American, American Indian and Latino communities, mentor students and help researchers partner effectively with underserved communities. We employ a community-based participatory approach, which places community-defined needs, partnership and capacity building at the center of our work.

CHDI began in 2006. Its original goals—to conduct outreach and education, develop research, and mentor underrepresented students interested in health and research careers—were based on the Spirit of EAGLES initiative that began at UW in 2000.  In 2016, we added a goal to help increase enrollment of underrepresented populations into UWCCC clinical care and research.


Tracy M Downs, MD, FACS, 2016-2018

Alexandra K Adams, MD, PhD, 2008-2016

James Cleary, MD, 2007-2009

Patrick Remington, MD, 2006-2008

Brion Fox, PhD, planning period, 2006

CHDI Values

Honor community knowledge and experience

Emphasize local health concerns

Build on community strengths and resources

Promote co-learning, capacity building and system development

Build collaborative and equitable partnerships

Balance research and action for mutual benefit

Promote shared power and attend to social inequities

Emphasize ecological perspectives and multiple determinants of health

Share information and knowledge with all parties

Commit to sustainability


*Adapted from Critical Issues in Developing and Following Community Based Participatory Research Principles, BA Israel et al., Community-Based Participatory Research for HealthM Minkler, N Wallerstein, ed. Josey Bass, c 2003

Where We Have Worked

A map of Wisconsin with counties highlights in blue, and a list of stylized state license plates with the states Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota

The Wisconsin Idea

The Wisconsin Idea holds that the work of the university… “should be applied to solve problems and improve health, quality of life, the environment, and agriculture for all citizens of the state.”   -The University of Wisconsin System

Map of the Wisconsin Idea, the concept of research, education, and outreach

"I shall never be content until the beneficent influence of the university reaches every family in the state"

UW President Charles Van Hise in 1905


Our team is a group of dedicated researchers and leaders; our expertise spans from program development to outreach to training and education

CHDI Staff and Students
CHDI Staff and Students