The Wisconsin Partnership Program at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health has announced awards to three interdisciplinary research projects to address significant and diverse health and healthcare issues through its Collaborative Health Sciences Program.

Through this grant program, the Partnership Program supports novel ideas and new approaches to interdisciplinary research or education advancing health, healthcare and health equity in Wisconsin and beyond. The following projects were awarded up to $600,000 each. 

Comparison of Successful Colorectal Cancer Screening Strategies in Wisconsin Rural and Urban Settings: Achieving "80% In Every Community"

Principal investigator: Jennifer Weiss, MD, MS, Department of Medicine

Co-principal investigators: Robert Greenlee, PhD, Marshfield Clinic and James Ford, PhD, UW School of Pharmacy

Collaborators: Guanhua Chen, PhD, Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics and Christopher Queram, Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in Wisconsin. It is also the most preventable, yet least prevented cancer. Screening is important for early detection, but disparities in screening rates exist between Wisconsin clinics. Urban clinics tend to have higher screening rates than their rural counterparts, though some rural clinics are notably high performing. This research will engage partners at high-performing clinics to determine what strategies work best for improving colorectal cancer screening rates, and leverage those strategies to improve screening rates at low-performing clinics in both rural and urban communities. The long-term goal of the research is to decrease statewide colorectal cancer incidence and mortality.

Defining and Targeting Novel Anti-Viral and Anti-Cancer T Cell Immunity

Principal investigator: Shigeki Miyamoto, PhD, Department of Oncology

Co-principal investigator: Suresh Marulasiddappa, DVM, PhD, UW School of Veterinary Medicine

Collaborators: Doug McNeel, MD, PhD, Department of Medicine and Zachary Morris, MD, PhD, UW School of Human Oncology

Cancer and viral infections affect many people in Wisconsin. This interdisciplinary team will study how our own immune system fights against cancers and viral infections. Specifically, the team will gain insights into a critical mechanism, T-cells, that may be harnessed to defend against cancers or viral infections in our bodies. Though T-cells are known to play a key role in fighting against these diseases, the role of signaling pathways from the nucleus to the cytoplasm has not been studied widely. Evidence suggests that if one signaling pathway, the NF-kB pathway, is inhibited, more stem-like T-cells may be produced, providing greater immunity against cancer and viruses. This research will study the NF-kB cellular pathway with the goal of developing and testing a pathway inhibitor to help improve cancer and viral immunity. Findings from this study have the potential to influence the future of cancer treatment.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Therapy for Wisconsin Prison Inmates

Principal investigator: Michael Koenigs, PhD, Department of Psychiatry

Co-principal investigator: Josh Cisler, PhD, Department of Psychiatry

Collaborators: Linnea Burk, PhD, Department of Psychology and Valerie Maine, PsyD, William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital and Wisconsin Department of Corrections

Many of Wisconsin’s prison inmates have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a mental health disorder that develops in people who have experienced emotionally traumatic events, such as neglect or abuse.  In fact, rates of PTSD among prison inmates are estimated to be more than 10-fold higher than in the general population. Untreated PTSD is linked to dire outcomes like higher suicide, victimization and recidivism rates. Thus, better treatment is needed in order to improve mental health and ensure better outcomes for inmates. Through a unique partnership between UW–Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, this study will provide group cognitive processing therapy to prison inmates. The study will also evaluate the impact of the therapy, with the goal of improving mental health and outcomes for prison inmates as well as informing public policy related to mental healthcare in prisons.


The Wisconsin Partnership Program at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health is committed to improving the health and well-being of Wisconsin residents through investments in research, education and community partnerships. It was established at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health through a gift from Blue Cross Blue Shield United of Wisconsin as a result of its conversion to a stock insurance corporation.