Director's Message: Thank You and Best Wishes to Dr. Webb Hooper

The Case Comprehensive Cancer Center thanks Monica Webb Hooper, PhD for her leadership and dedication to our mission since joining the Center in 2016.

Portrait of Monica Webb Hooper

The Cancer Center is pleased to announce that in March, Dr. Webb Hooper will assume the role of Deputy Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), one of the 27 NIH institutes. This is truly a remarkable opportunity for Dr. Webb Hooper. In this role, she will direct the nations’ health research efforts in minority health and help to define actionable interventions to improve the well-being of all underserved across the country. We are deeply appreciative of her impact on all of us here, but recognize the unique opportunity that this represents. We have high expectations that her focus and dedication to this mission will result in transformative national response and will “move the needle” in many hard to manage health issues.

The NIH has just announced her appointment.

Dr. Webb Hooper was the inaugural director of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center Office of Cancer Disparities Research (OCDR) and the inaugural Associate Director for Cancer Disparities Research. Within her first six months of settling at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), she established the vision, mission, and objectives of the OCDR and began writing the community outreach and engagement component of the cancer center support grant (CCSG) renewal application. She also assumed leadership of our remarkable Community Advisory Board (CAB). With the help of the University, she moved to change Ohio laws so that she could establish a smoking cessation lab to improve the efficacy of smoking cessation efforts. This is particularly important for our region, which has one of the highest smoking rates in the country, especially in the city of Cleveland.

Dr. Webb Hooper continues to touch many activities across the Cancer Center. She was a significant contributor to our last CCSG renewal, leading the writing of the community outreach and engagement section of the application, which served as a model for other cancer centers. In fact, her section has been called out by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as exemplary. She successfully acquired Cancer Moonshot funding from the NCI as a supplement to our cancer center grant, to start a new, regional tobacco cessation service at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute, and The MetroHealth System Cancer Care. The Tobacco Intervention and Psychosocial Support (TIPS) service is among the best of these NCI-funded implementation science efforts in the country, and has one of the highest accrual rates of all centers. She developed a sustainability plan for each of the hospitals to continue to provide this important service. Under her leadership, the Cancer Disparities Symposium was launched and is now in its fourth year. The symposium has grown exponentially and is a model for academic-community engagement. She was also a principal investigator on the cancer disparities Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) planning grant (P20), along with Drs. Nate Berger and Li Li.

Dr. Webb Hooper has been a strong advocate for community-engaged research and has engaged our CAB in these activities. She devised the Forward Movement Projects with the advice and involvement of the CAB. This project conducted “listening tours” at many regional community sites followed by a community-facing randomized controlled trial focused on trust and unmet needs. From these projects, we enhanced our understanding of multi-level factors associated with community distrust for healthcare and biomedical research, and began to understand strategies to address community concerns. Findings from the first phase of the project were disseminated in 2018 and published in 2019. Results from the final phase will be presented at the upcoming Cancer Disparities Symposium on March 6, 2020.

For those of you who may not be familiar with Dr. Webb Hooper’s training and research expertise, she is a clinical health psychologist, whose research focuses on cancer prevention and control, health behavior change, biobehavioral stress processes, tobacco use and cessation, weight management – with an emphasis on minority health and health disparities. Her research program, the Tobacco, Obesity, and Oncology Laboratory (TOOL), focused on addressing related tobacco-related health disparities in our underserved communities. Her group developed and implemented the largest behavioral randomized controlled trial focused on African American tobacco smokers to date, recruiting over 1000 participants in under three years. A recent publication found that social determinants of health predicted tobacco treatment engagement, even among those with high motivation to quit. They also developed and evaluated a mobile health (mHealth) tobacco cessation intervention with colleagues in the School of Engineering.

Please join me in celebrating Monica’s new appointment to this prestigious and national role as Deputy Director for NIMHD on Thursday, February 20 from 4-6 pm in the lobby of the Wolstein Research Building.