For Immediate Release
March 06, 2024
Contact Information

Uzo Osameka

(BPRW) Team SAMBAI, TOUCH, The Black Breast Cancer Alliance, Named As Recipient of Prestigious Cancer Grand Challenges Award

Team SAMBAI, led by Melissa B. Davis, PhD, of Morehouse School of Medicine, and comprised of TOUCH, The Black Breast Cancer Alliance, and collaborators from 15 institutions globally will receive up to $25M from Cancer Grand Challenges over five years to take on the challenge of cancer inequities

(Black PR Wire) ANNAPOLIS, Md.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Cancer Grand Challenges, a global research funding initiative co-founded by Cancer Research UK and the National Cancer Institute, today announces funding for five new global research teams to take on some of the toughest cancer challenges. Team SAMBAI, led by Melissa Davis, PhD, Director of the Institute of Translational Genomic Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, is one of five organizations that will receive up to $25 million over five years and will unite interdisciplinary researchers worldwide to drive progress in cancer research. This $125 million investment marks Cancer Grand Challenges' most significant funding round to date – with $50 million funded by the National Cancer Institute and $75 million funded by Cancer Research UK and its network of partners.

TOUCH, The Black Breast Cancer Alliance, as part of Team SAMBAI, is the first U.S. Black-led breast cancer advocacy group to be an integral partner in the international Cancer Grand Challenge study.

Inequities in cancer prevention, screening, and treatment lead to disparities in cancer incidence and mortality and are a significant public health concern. Morehouse School of Medicine aims to build an unprecedented resource, which will comprise a comprehensive measurement of social, environmental, genetic, and biological factors that can be used to help define the causes of disparate outcomes in the selected populations. Dr. Davis is leading a team of researchers from 15 institutions in multiple countries including Ghana, South Africa, the United States, and the United Kingdom, who will focus on breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancer in people of African descent. Huge diversity gaps have skewed prior research to address cancer inequities. Most of the work that has informed understanding of what causes cancer has been done in people of European ancestry. Black people make up 13.4% of the U.S. population but account for only about 5% of clinical trial participants, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

"Together with our network of visionary partners and research leaders, Cancer Grand Challenges unites the world's brightest minds across boundaries and disciplines and aims to overcome cancer's toughest problems," said Dr. David Scott, Director of Cancer Grand Challenges. "With this investment, our largest to date, we continue to grow our global research community and fund new teams that have the potential to surface discoveries that could positively impact cancer outcomes."

Dr. Melissa Davis says, “Central to our success has been our partnership with patient advocate groups and TOUCH is the key model of these strides. These new collaborations will be instrumental in shaping our approach to developing robust recruitment strategies and creating advocacy networks that reach diverse patient groups across the globe. Together, we have worked tirelessly, and will continue to ensure that our research not only advances scientific knowledge but does so in a way that is truly inclusive, reflecting the needs and voices of patients from all walks of life.”

Ricki Fairley, CEO and co-founder of TOUCH, The Black Breast Cancer Alliance, says, "We are blessed to be able to take TOUCH BBCA global for this iconic research that will advance cancer science. We are ecstatic to build a comprehensive, culturally agile patient engagement ecosystem driven by patients, survivors and caregivers with lived breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancer experience. We will humanize this pre-emptive cancer research with education, support, and resources. When patients are educated with words they can spell from voices of trust, they embrace it. It's not just science for us. It's hope. It's another birthday, a grandbaby, another sunrise. Our team of cancer thriver patient ambassadors will play a strategic role in recruiting and building an involved patient community to ensure that patients have utmost respect, safety, and support."

TOUCH BBCA has curated a team of stellar advocates to lead this critical work including Keith Crawford, MD, PhD, Director of Clinical Trials and Patient Education for the Prostate Health Education Network, Tiah Tomlin-Harris, Founder and CEO of My Style Matters, Laura Crandon, Founder of Touch4Life, Ify Anne Nwabukwu, BSN, RN, Founder & Executive Director, African Women Cancer Awareness Association, Robert Oldroyd, Patient Advocate, Prostate Cancer UK, Paul Munim, Patient Advocate, Prostate Cancer UK, Dwight Thomas, Georgia Prostate Cancer Coalition, Ali Stunt, Founder, Pancreatic Cancer Action, and Eusterce Chilando.

TOUCH BBCA, under the realm of Team SAMBAI, is now part of the Cancer Grand Challenges community that has grown to more than 1,200 investigators and collaborators, with 16 teams from across the world taking on 13 challenges.

For more information about TOUCH, The Black Breast Cancer Alliance, email or visit

For more information about Morehouse School of Medicine, email or visit

For more information on the Cancer Grand Challenge, visit