Office of Community Outreach & Engagement

The Office of Community Outreach and Engagement (OCOE), formerly the Health Disparities Research Center, was created to enable collaboration across Fred Hutch, the University of Washington (UW), Seattle Children's and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA).

Our community approach creates a feedback loop designed to close the gap in health disparities and reduce the incidence and mortality rates from cancer and other diseases. We work with community members to improve knowledge and awareness of cancer risk factors, screening services and treatment options. By engaging with members of underrepresented communities, we discover where inequities exist, helping scientists and clinicians develop and apply new knowledge to help these at-risk communities. The more knowledge we gain, the better we are able to address the needs of different communities, further reducing health disparities.

In addition to our primary location at the Fred Hutch campus in Seattle, the OCOE operates the Center for Community Health Promotion in Sunnyside, Washington.

Two people conversing during a health fair

Projects

From food and fitness to prevention and treatments, our projects look at how different approaches meet the needs of medically underserved populations.

Keyboard and mouse

Find state and national information and resources for a variety of populations that experience health care disparities.

Grant-writing workshop

Events

Our events are share information, strategies and resources to expand our collective knowledge on the health disparities affecting different communities. 

Our Mission: Better Outcomes for Everybody

Health care is not experienced equally across the nation and a number of communities shoulder an unequal and unjust burden of cancer. Cancer health disparities are differences in cancer measures, such as screening rates, incidence (new cases), stage at diagnosis, mortality (deaths), quality of life after cancer treatment and survivorship among different populations groups. These groups may be characterized by race, ethnicity, disability, gender, sexual identity, geographic location, income, education or other characteristics. In general, people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds (poor, those who lack health insurance, those with limited or no access to effective health care) experience a greater cancer burden than the general U.S. population. As such, they are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer once it’s reached a later stage of development. They’re also more likely to die from treatable cancers that may have been detected with early screening.

Reducing this burden requires a deliberate, comprehensive and participatory approach to understanding and addressing cancer health disparities, from prevention to end-of-life care. Recognizing the urgency and persistence of this issue, we address this issue through three primary goals.

Research

Promote research relevant to the cancer burden in our catchment area and partner with researchers and community partners to facilitate mutually beneficial cancer research between our institution, community-based organizations and the populations we serve.    

Access

Enhance delivery and access of cancer screening, treatment and clinical trials to patients, their families and persons at risk.    

Collaboration

Collaborate with researchers and community partners to disseminate, implement and evaluate evidence-based cancer prevention and control strategies that address the cancer burden in our catchment area communities.    

Events and Awards

Discussion during a grant writing workshop

Grant Writing Workshop

We collaborate with community partners to help them draft effective grant proposals for local programs.

Fred Hutch Equity Research Award

We offer two awards to recognize people who make a difference in underserved communities.

OCOE Team

Jason “Jay” Mendoza, M.D., M.P.H.

Director, OCOE

Dr. Mendoza's research uses innovative behavioral interventions and policies in schools, communities and clinical settings to eliminate inequities in childhood physical activity and nutrition outcomes disadvantaged populations.

Kathy Briant, M.P.H., C.H.E.S.

Program Administrator, OCOE

Throughout her career at Fred Hutch, Ms. Briant has served as a catalyst for cancer control planning and implementation in the Northwest Region as she and her staff have worked with organizations that reach medically underserved populations to help plan, implement, and evaluate effective and sustainable cancer control strategies. She currently works with the OCOE team to use a community-based participatory research approach to implement interventions that address issues around health disparities.

Wendy Barrington, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.S.

Program Lead, Urban Populations

Dr. Barrington is an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington and a member of the Cancer Prevention program of the Public Health Sciences division.

Rachel Ceballos, Ph.D.

Program Lead, Rural Populations

Dr. Ceballos’s research integrates psychoneuroendocrinology and cancer prevention and control with the development and evaluation of culturally appropriate behavioral interventions.

John Gore, M.D., M.S.

Program Lead, African American Populations

Dr. Gore is Associate Professor at the University of Washington, as well as a clinician, surgeon and researcher who specializes in urologic oncology and general urology.

Margaret “Peggy” Hannon, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Program Lead, Cancer Screening Activities

Dr. Hannon is the Director of the Health Promotion Research Center, a CDC-funded Prevention Research Center. Her research focuses on dissemination and implementation research, with an emphasis on cancer screening and workplace health promotion.

Casey Lion, M.D., M.P.H.

Program Lead, Patient Navigation

Dr. Lion is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She also practices General Pediatrics at Seattle Children's Hospital.

Myra Parker, J.D., Ph.D.

Program Lead, Indigenous Populations

Dr. Parker is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine. She also serves as Associate Director of the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute Community Engagement and Outreach Core.

Steve Schwartz, Ph.D.

Program Lead, Needs Assessment

Dr. Schwartz is a Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Washington. His research centers on genetic, lifestyle and environmental determinants of neoplasia and its sequelae.

David Doody, M.P.H.

Senior Statistical Analyst

Mr. Doody is a member of the Cancer Epidemiology Research Cooperative (CERC) within the Public Health Sciences division.

Kristen Hammerback, M.A.

Research Scientist

Ms. Hammerback is a research scientist at the CDC-funded Health Promotion Research Center, within the School of Public Health at the University of Washington.

Community Health Educators

Liszet Bigelow, M.S.W., Urban Populations

Craig Dee, Indigenous Populations

Dante’ Morehead, M.P.H., African-American Populations

Dillon van Rensburg, Rural Populations

Patient Navigators

Anne Devine
Michelle Watson

Contact Us

Mailing Address

The Office of Community Outreach and Engagement
1100 Fairview Ave. N.
Mail Stop M3-B232
Seattle, WA 98109

Kathy Briant, M.P.H., CHES

Program Administrator

Norma Mariscal

Project Coordinator
Phone: 206.667.4203
Fax: 206.667.5977