Russell G. Hopkins, a staunch advocate for community engagement in academic health research and a member of the University of Illinois Cancer Center’s Community Advisory Board, has died after multiple bouts with cancer. He was 86.

An Army Veteran who served as a medic in Germany, Hopkins was instrumental to the Cancer Center’s patient engagement, especially around how to equitably engage veterans, recalled Karriem Watson, DHSc, MS, MPH, now Chief Engagement Officer of the All of Us Research Program at the National Institutes of Health and before that the Cancer Center’s Associate Director of Community Outreach and Engagement.

“He made me a better researcher by his commitment to engagement. He was generous with his time and knowledge and I am forever grateful to him and it is an honor that his legacy will continue to be honored through the Cancer Center’s commitment to community engagement,” Watson said.

Hopkins also was an enthusiastic member of the Cancer Center’s Patient Brigade, a diverse group guided by the principles of community-based participatory research and patient-centered outcomes research to elevate patient and community voices. He was vital to the success of the Cancer Center’s first Community Engagement grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

“He was a brilliant advocate who was enthusiastic about supporting research to end cancer so no veterans or community members would have to go through the battle he went through. He was a generous humanitarian who despite his personal health hurdles always created time and energy for his advocacy for veteran cancer patients. And, he was very inspiring and encouraged us to do better at engaging veterans in cancer research,” said Nasima Mannan, MPH, DrPH(c), Associate Director of the Cancer Center’s Office of Community Engagement and Health Equity (CEHE).

Hopkins also contributed to the work of the University of Illinois Chicago Center for Clinical and Translational Science by serving as a longstanding member of its Community Engagement Advisory Board.

Hopkins died in November 2022.

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