ITTA BENA, Miss. — A Mississippi Valley State University professor was recently appointed to the board of a local organization devoted to eradicating cancer, particularly in the Mississippi Delta.
MVSU Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Dr. Mark Dugo has joined the board of directors for the Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation (FLHCF).
The Ruleville-based non-profit was founded and is led by MVSU alumna Freddie White-Johnson (82’). Its mission includes preventing cancer in the Mississippi Delta by increasing awareness and establishing a public agenda for the prevention of cancer.
Dugo brings to the organization a wealth of knowledge in the areas of health disparities and the underlying causes of cancer.
His term will last two years, and he will be eligible to be re-appointed by the Foundation’s executive board.
"I am honored to be selected, and I hope that we can get MVSU students engaged—particularly our Environmental Health students,” said Dugo, who joined MVSU’s faculty in 2015.
According to Dugo, research, education, and advocacy provided by FLHCF are critical in reducing the number of individuals impacted by cancer.
“We, here at Valley, need to be players in this as well, so we want to continue to get students engaged in community outreach to promote and encourage early screenings.”
White-Johnson, who serves as FLHCF’s executive director, said Dugo’s appointment is an important one for the organization.
“We are extremely fortunate to have Dr. Dugo join our organization,” said White-Johnson. He genuinely cares about people and has an authentic passion for mankind. I’m just really impressed by his level of expertise and the sincerity he exhibits in his work.”
White-Johnson said Dugo will offer valuable contributions that will help the organization carry out its mission.
“His extensive experience in his particular field and his leadership is something that will be an invaluable asset as the Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation strives to reduce cancer health disparities and save lives in the state of Mississippi, particularly in the Mississippi Delta,” she said.
A native of Virginia, Dugo has a background tied to three Mississippi IHL institutions.
In 2003, Dugo earned his M.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Southern Mississippi, studying population genetics of the endangered Gulf sturgeon.
In 2015, he received his Ph.D. in Environmental Science from Jackson State University, where he studied gene expression in native fishes following exposure to the carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, 3-Methylcholanthrene.
“Now that I work and reside in the Mississippi Delta, I am interested in stakeholder engagement and education as vital components of public health intervention,” he said.
At MVSU, Dugo has advised several undergraduate and graduate students on independent projects about health disparities and environmental health, including delineating incidence and mortality rates of female reproductive cancers and prostate cancer and characterizing carcinogenic releases from facilities that report to the EPA toxic release inventory.
He recently initiated a genomics-based laboratory workflow with capabilities in population diagnostics for training and research at MVSU.
The Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation was founded and established under the umbrella of The University of Southern Mississippi by White-Johnson, who is also the Director of the USM’s Office of Mississippi Network for Cancer Control & Prevention.
Last year, FLHCF identified and assisted 837 women with a screening appointment for a mammogram and Pap test; 360 men with a prostate screening; provided financial assistance for transportation to 23 women and 3 men; and provided cancer education material to more than 10,000 men and women throughout the state of Mississippi, mostly in the Mississippi Delta.
To learn more about the Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation, visit www.flhcf.com.