The American Cancer Society (ACS), along with four historically black medical schools, including Charles Drew Medical School, Howard University, Meharry Medical College, and Morehouse School of Medicine, have announced a groundbreaking diversity program in the cancer research (DICR) to help improve diversity, equity and inclusion in cancer research.
The inaugural initiatives of the global program include the DICR Institutional Development Grants. All four HBCUs received DICR grants as part of a pilot program for 2021-2022.
The awards offered under the DICR program are unique in the field of cancer research.
They provide a large amount of salary support to the four colleges to select clinical professors who need more time for their cancer research and academic activities.
They also fund other student and postdoctoral programs and support the awards with career development funds and mentorship by established professors of the American Cancer Society.
The grants will strengthen the sustainability of cancer-focused clinical and scientific careers, launching or supporting the careers of 104 people by 2025.
The impactful program will create a more inclusive research environment to more effectively address health disparities and may lead to targeted recruitment efforts focused on integrating people of color into clinical research protocols.
Establishing a research community made up of a diverse group of people is essential to ensure scientific excellence.
“The American Cancer Society is committed to launching the brightest minds in cancer research and reducing health disparities,” said Dr. William Cance, medical and scientific director of the American Cancer Society .
“To achieve this, we believe it is essential to invest in the minority workforce and their dedicated efforts to resolve disparities and establish equity in cancer care.”
“There are many reasons the Black community continues to experience disparities in cancer care outcomes. But one of the most critical factors behind the imbalance, and one of the most promising avenues for closing the gap, is diversity in cancer care research. We need to improve diversity and representation in our labs if we expect different results in our hospitals, ”said Dr. Wayne AI Frederick, President of Howard University.
“As a cancer surgeon and president of an HBCU, I believe that the Diversity in Cancer Research program will prove essential in changing the field of cancer care research and improving the outcomes of cancer care. cancer for black Americans. I am deeply grateful for the efforts of the American Cancer Society behind this initiative.
Data shows that African Americans and Blacks, Hispanics and Latinos, Indigenous peoples, and Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders are under-represented in grant funding.
Less than 2% of applicants to the National Institute of Health’s main grant program are from Black / African Americans and less than 4% from Hispanic / Latino populations.
“We are incredibly excited about this new program with the American Cancer Society,” said Dr. James EK Hildreth, Ph.D., MD, President and CEO of Meharry Medical College.
“There is a significant imbalance in the representation of minority populations in clinical research, which has led to poorer results for specific racial and ethnic minority groups. To eradicate the varying health disparities that affect these populations, we must prioritize the diversification of clinical trials and those that conduct trials to ensure that treatment is safe and effective. “
This is a fantastic step in ensuring that minority populations receive effective treatment and provides great opportunities for our students and faculty to engage in cancer research, ”said Dr Hildreth.
“Developing a diverse, highly competitive and independent research faculty has been a goal of CDU since its inception 55 years ago,” said Dr. David M. Carlisle, President and CEO of the University of Medicine and Science Charles R. Drew, located in South Los Angeles.
“This generous grant from the American Cancer Society will directly support a range of programs aimed at this goal, including the Center to Eliminate Cancer Health Disparities as well as our Clinical Research and Career Development program, which provides training and mentorship on health and community disparities. participatory research in partnership with minority academics and junior professors from the CDU. This funding will undoubtedly help the CDU to form a solid foundation in social justice for future leaders in cancer research.
With the DICR program, ACS has committed to invest $ 12 million to support four HBCU medical schools with DICR Institutional Development Grants to fund a four-year program that aims to increase the pool of minority cancer researchers by identifying talented students and teachers from HBCUs.
This program will inform efforts to develop a national program to stimulate cancer research and career development in institutions serving minorities (MSI).
These grants are designed to build the capacity and enhance the competitiveness of MSI faculty when applying for nationally competitive grants and supporting faculty development and retention.
“Here in Georgia, disparities in cancer health exist based on age, gender, race, income, education and access to care, among other factors, residents of Georgia in rural communities with worse cancer health outcomes than their urban counterparts, ”said Valerie Montgomery Rice, MD, president and CEO of the Morehouse School of Medicine.
“The DICR program will be an indispensable and welcome contribution to our work at the Institute for Cancer Health Equity at the Morehouse School of Medicine, forever changing the field of cancer research. The program will not only ensure diversity and inclusion in research, but address health disparities in diverse communities and contribute to our mission to lead the creation and advancement of health equity.