Cancer research and education programs in the state of Colorado will take a leap forward with the arrival of University of Colorado Cancer Center’s program co-leader for prevention and control, Myles Cockburn, PhD.
Cockburn’s research focuses on the prevention of skin cancer by changing the behaviors of school children in high risk communities. He also is designing methods to improve prevention and early detection of skin cancer and other screenable cancers like breast cancer and colorectal cancer.
“Myles will be a strong asset to CU Cancer Center,” said Cathy Bradley, PhD, CU Cancer Center’s associate director of population sciences. “His approach to research is to use the best scientific methods and apply them at the community level where impact is greatest.”
Cockburn comes to CU Cancer Center from New Zealand with a layover at University of Southern California’s Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Keck School of Medicine. He developed SunSmart, a health education program to teach kids and their families the dangers of exposure to the sun. Cockburn wants to apply the lessons learned in cancer and other chronic diseases and is looking forward to collaborating with scientists and oncologists at CU Cancer Center.
“The majority of the people I spoke with at CU Anschutz are interested in working with whoever they need to work with to make sure that we get the right answers for cancer prevention everywhere,” said Cockburn.
In addition to SunSmart, Cockburn also will look at cancer registry data in Colorado to identify communities where cancer screening and treatment options may not be sufficient. He emphasizes though that cancer control should not be limited by geography.
“My work is about people and developing tools that can be used anywhere and then using those tools everywhere to identify and fill the gaps in cancer prevention and clinical care,” said Cockburn.
He adds that often there are ways to start filling those gaps quickly by getting patients information they need from sources they are likely to trust.
“Myles brings energy, intelligence, and a strong commitment to reducing the burden of cancer,” said Bradley. “He will take the CU Cancer Center’s prevention and control program to the next level by conducting state-of-the-art research, building collaboration across cancer center scientists and providers, and disseminating his findings to the community.”
In addition to becoming program director for cancer prevention and control, Cockburn also will be a professor of epidemiology in the Colorado School of Public Health. He looks forward to the spirit of collaboration at CU Anschutz, focusing on important questions and getting the answers to as many people as possible in Colorado and beyond.
Cockburn will be the first holder of the CancerCure/AMC Cancer Fund Chair for Prevention and Control.
“The generosity of CancerCure allowed us to recruit Dr. Cockburn, a leading researcher in cancer prevention and control,” said Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, CU Cancer Center director. “Their continuing commitment to CU Cancer Center will help us change behaviors at the community level and to improve quality of life for cancer survivors.”
In 1996, cancer survivors Midge Wallace and Carolyn Fancher decided to make an impact against the disease. They started CancerCure, a group of concerned men and women whose goal is to raise funds for cancer research at CU Cancer Center. Cockburn’s appointment to this chair will preserve the legacy of CancerCure members, while serving as a platform for him to continue the innovative research he conducts through extensive community outreach.