Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation and Project Echo Partner to Change Cancer Care in The United States and Africa

Mar 16, 2017 9:00 AM ET
Press Release

March 16, 2017 /3BL Media/  - The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation has awarded a $10 million grant to Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center to greatly expand quality cancer care for rural and underserved populations in the U.S. and Africa.  Announced as part of the Foundation’s commitment to the White House Cancer Moonshot initiative, the goal of this partnership is to improve cancer outcomes by bringing top-quality care to cancer patients living in rural and underserved areas where cancer specialists are not readily available, and to increase care capacity at community hospitals and health centers by partnering local clinicians with National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers (CCC) and other academic medical centers.

Throughout the United States and around the world, there are tremendous disparities in cancer care access, quality, and outcomes, particularly among minority populations and the poor and vulnerable.  For many patients, quality prevention, screening, treatment, palliative care, and survivorship services are either unavailable or access to them is very limited.  Only 3% of medical oncologists practice in rural areas, forcing rural cancer patients to travel great distances for care.  Even though cervical cancer is largely preventable when screening guidelines and follow-up monitoring are pursued, recent studies have shown that racial disparities in United States death rates from cervical cancer are significantly wider than estimated: black women are dying from cervical cancer at twice the rate of white women.  Globally, cancer disparities also persist. In Sub-Saharan Africa 22.5 out of 100,000 people die from cervical cancer in contrast to 15 in North America, where cervical cancer does not even make the list of top 15 cancer sites for incidence or mortality. Similarly, 20.9 per 100,000 die from prostate cancer in Sub-Saharan Africa vs. 9.8 per 100,000 North America.

 “Project ECHO is a proven approach to breaking down barriers to high quality specialty care for medically underserved populations facing a number of serious diseases,” says John Damonti, president of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. “This partnership will support the pilot application and spread of ECHO’s tele-mentoring and collaborative model now to cancer. ECHO’s potential to strengthen and heal gaps in systems of care for the most vulnerable patients and expand the idea of a cancer care team across space and healthcare organizations is enormous.”

“We are incredibly proud to be part of this historic initiative,” says Sanjeev Arora, MD, director of Project ECHO.  “We are delighted to partner with the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, cancer centers, community hospitals, oncologists, and other healthcare partners in the U.S. and Africa to improve the cancer care continuum.”

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation funding will allow Project ECHO to significantly expand its footprint in cancer, domestically and internationally, and for the ECHO model to become part of the fabric of cancer prevention, screening, treatment, palliation and survivorship in the United States.  Goals of the partnership include:

  • Strengthening the cancer health system through training and capacity building.
  • Accelerating the transmission of best practice cancer care and strengthen connections between cancer centers and communities.
  • Reducing disparities across all phases of cancer care through the use of the ECHO model to facilitate best practice care in rural and underserved communities (including through programs that involve Community Health Workers as a bridge to populations less likely to engage with the healthcare system).
  • Engaging this growing community of cancer ECHO experts in an ongoing collaborative to share learnings, best practices, and innovations.
  • Evaluating the impact of the ECHO model as a means of improving health outcomes and quality of life for cancer patients.
  • Working with the leading organizations in cancer and healthcare payment experts to incorporate ECHO into the fabric of cancer prevention, screening, treatment, palliation, and survivorship in the United States.

The anticipated evidence of impact of this project includes: higher provider self-efficacy, increased adherence to current national best practices for cancer screening, prevention and treatment; increased capacity for care of patients with cancer; deepened relationships and ongoing collaborative care among NCI CCCs, cancer centers of excellence and community based cancer care and primary care providers; development of tools that support the use of the ECHO model to train Community Health Workers and others in cancer screening, prevention and survivorship; increased replication of the ECHO model for cancer; and positive movement towards long-term sustainability for cancer-focused ECHOs.

 “Everyone should be able to get the healthcare they need, when they need it, where they live,” adds Dr. Arora.  “This support from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation will help increase access to high-quality cancer care and prevention for people in rural and underserved communities around the world, and in the process, it will save and improve many lives.”

Project ECHO, based at the University of New Mexico Health Science Center, is a groundbreaking approach to increasing access to specialty care that started in New Mexico for hepatitis C treatment.  It has now expanded to 113 partners in over 30 states and in 22 countries covering more than 55 common, chronic, complex conditions.

About the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation

The mission of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is to promote health equity and improve the health outcomes of populations disproportionately affected by serious diseases and conditions, by strengthening community-based health care worker capacity, integrating medical care and community based supportive services, and mobilizing communities in the fight against disease. For more information about the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, please visit or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

About Project ECHO

Project ECHO® (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center is a movement to demonopolize knowledge and amplify the capacity to provide best practice care for underserved people all over the world. This low-cost, high-impact intervention is accomplished by linking expert inter-disciplinary specialist teams with multiple primary care clinicians simultaneously through teleECHO™ clinics, where experts mentor and share their expertise via case-based learning, enabling primary care clinicians to treat patients with complex conditions in their own communities.  The ECHO model™ is not ‘traditional telemedicine’ where the specialist assumes care of the patient, but instead where the clinician retains responsibility for managing the patient.  Project ECHO helps rural and underserved patients received the right care at the right place and at the right time.  Learn more at and on Twitter @ProjectECHO.



Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation

Lisa McCormick Lavery, 609-252-7602


Project ECHO

Andrea Bradford, 505-272-5513