The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has established a partnership with the CATCH Global Foundation as a funding partner for the foundation. The CATCH Global Foundation is developing a comprehensive health program for children and families in order to promote healthier behaviors.
The Board of Regents of the academic system has approved the four-year agreement, and MD Anderson will now provide the Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) program with $3.3 million in funding for infrastructure and operations, curriculum development and dissemination, as well as program and technological support, according to a press release from the institution.
CATCH was developed at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston‘s (UTHealth) School of Public Health, and aims to provide healthier lifestyles to children in over 10,000 educational settings all over the country, as well as decrease the risks related to the development of cancer.
“Establishing healthy eating and physical activity habits early in life is a powerful way to reduce lifetime cancer risks. Recent estimates suggest that a third to half of all cancers are preventable if Americans adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle,” said the vice president of cancer prevention and population science at MD Anderson, Ernest Hawk, MD. “MD Anderson’s affiliation with CATCH Global Foundation greatly accelerates our ability to promote healthy lifestyles in childhood and adolescence.”
The partnership is included in MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program, a project dedicated to accelerate research and translate scientific findings into therapeutic options able to decrease cancer mortality rates. Dr. Hawk, in collaboration with MD Anderson’s vice president of governmental relations Mark Moreno leads the moon shots cancer prevention and control platform.
Initial efforts of the collaboration between MD Anderson and CATCH will focus on preventing skin cancer through an educational approach, framed within the Melanoma Moon Shot, as well as preventing tobacco use, within the Lung Cancer Moon Shot program. Both programs already have their own specific cancer prevention educational projects for the youth.
“Effective cancer prevention will play a powerful role in the future health of our country and in our team meeting its moon shots goals,” explained the president of MD Anderson, Ron DePinho, M.D. “It’s important that we deploy MD Anderson’s programs for optimum impact. With CATCH, we’re fortunate to combine our expertise with a successful, longstanding program providing a practical, research-based approach to child health that’s already national in scope.”
“Our goal is to create a public entity dedicated to improving the health of children, in perpetuity, by disseminating programs developed and proven effective at UTHealth and MD Anderson,” said UT Health professor Steve Kelder, PhD, who initiated the foundation with professor Deanna Hoelscher, PhD. “MD Anderson’s generous support will greatly accelerate the foundation’s progress in obesity prevention, cancer prevention and population health.”
Senior executive vice president and COO/CFO of UTHealth, Kevin Dillon added, “we are very pleased to see the programs created at UTHealth supported and disseminated by our sister UT organization—a great collaboration with direct preventive health benefits for our youth. Since 1992, CATCH has been a flagship program for UTHealth, demonstrating the creativity and innovativeness of our child health faculty.”
CATCH was primarily developed by five collaborating research universities, and has created early childhood education, elementary school, middle school and after-school programs. The program has already expanded its overall influence with the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living at UTHealth. Each project includes programs dedicated to nutrition, physical education, classroom and community/family outreach.
“CATCH is backed by 25 years of scientific evidence proving that it is the most cost-effective means to prevent childhood obesity,” said the founding executive director of the CATCH Global Foundation and UTHealth School of Public Health graduate, Duncan Van Dusen. “And since obesity is a leading risk factor for cancer, CATCH has really always been an anti-cancer program. Joining forces with MD Anderson immediately expands the value of CATCH to our partners in schools, YMCAs and other settings around the country, and will power several large initiatives to benefit hundreds of thousands more kids.”