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Rutgers Awarded $1.5 Million FEMA Grant to Support Volunteer Firefighter Cancer Research and Prevention

Thu, 11/05/2020 - 16:00
firefighters putting out fire

New Brunswick, N.J., November 5, 2020 — The Rutgers School of Public Health received a $1.5 Million Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to support volunteer firefighter cancer research.

This grant will enhance the research currently underway in collaboration with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, to better understand cancer risk factors, and the development of cancer prevention and risk reduction strategies for New Jersey firefighters, with a focus on volunteer firefighters. As the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Rutgers Cancer Institute is at the forefront of cancer research, prevention, and treatment.

Cancer – which causes illness, disability and premature death - is a growing concern among firefighters who are routinely exposed to cancer-causing agents in the line of duty.

While volunteers make up the majority of United States and New Jersey fire services, almost all previous research on cancer has been conducted among career firefighters. In New Jersey, volunteer firefighters make up over 80% of the state’s 37,500 active duty firefighters.

The new grant will support the Cancer Assessment and Prevention Study, which works with fire departments across the state to assess how volunteer exposures resemble and differ from those of career firefighters. The project also explores barriers toward post-fire decontamination among volunteer firefighters.  

The Cancer Assessment and Prevention Study also offers firefighters the opportunity to be part of the national Fire Fighters Cancer Cohort Study - an ongoing study of cancer and cancer risk among firefighters – and works with state and national partners to engage volunteer fire departments in their research and to disseminate their findings to help reduce cancer risk in volunteer firefighters.

"With this Federal Emergency Management Agency funding, the Cancer Assessment and Prevention Study will engage with volunteer firefighters and stakeholders in New Jersey and nationally to address the knowledge gap in cancer causing exposures and risk factors among volunteer firefighters and inform cancer prevention strategies," said the grant’s principal investigator Judith Graber, an associate professor at the Rutgers School of Public Health and associate member of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.




Rutgers School of Public Health 

The Rutgers School of Public Health - New Jersey’s leading academic institution in public health - is committed to advancing health and wellbeing and preventing disease throughout New Jersey, the United States, and the world, by preparing students as public health leaders, scholars, and practitioners; conducting public health research and scholarship; engaging collaboratively with communities and populations; and actively advocating for policies, programs, and services through the lens of equity and social justice. Learn how the Rutgers School of Public Health is "keeping the ‘public’ in public health,” by visiting them at

About Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

As New Jersey’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Rutgers Cancer Institute, together with RWJBarnabas Health, offers the most advanced cancer treatment options including bone marrow transplantation, proton therapy, CAR T-cell therapy and complex surgical procedures.  Along with clinical trials and novel therapeutics such as precision medicine and immunotherapy – many of which are not widely available – patients have access to these cutting-edge therapies at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New Brunswick, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey at University Hospital in Newark, as well as through RWJBarnabas Health facilities. To make a tax-deductible gift to support Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, call 848-932-8013 or visit