The American Cancer Society has introduced the American Cancer Society Center for Diversity in Cancer Research Training to address the lack of diversity in research environments. The new center will enhance the traditional academic journey, focusing on meeting potential researchers where they are and helping them overcome barriers to future success.
The American Cancer Society has introduced the American Cancer Society Center for Diversity in Cancer Research Training to address the lack of diversity in research environments.
The Cancer Society recently announced the new center will enhance the traditional academic journey, focusing on meeting potential researchers where they are and helping them overcome barriers to future success.
Initial programming will support underrepresented high school, college and post-baccalaureate students and include exposure to oncology and cancer research as a career. Mentorship, hands-on research experiences and career development will also be included.
The aim is to increase efforts to recruit and nurture individuals from diverse backgrounds within scientific and clinical training environments, according to a release by the Cancer Society.
"The center is a perfect way to build upon the Diversity in Cancer Research internship program we launched in 2021," said Dr. Ellie Daniels, MPH, senior vice president of the center," in the release. "Its success caused us to think about the support we could provide more broadly. Inequities impact cancer outcomes in tangible and intangible ways. Working to remove the academic barriers people of color face allows us to grow a pipeline of well-qualified researchers who have a unique connection to the communities we need to impact."
Today, the racial and ethnic communities that bear a disproportionate burden of cancer unfortunately continue to be underrepresented in the cancer research workforce. For example, while the number of biomedical scientists in the U.S. has grown since the 1990s, the percentage of African Americans and Hispanics in biomedical careers is lowest among any ethnic group, the release said.
In addition, funding rates for the National Institute of Health's R01 grant program, which serves as a catalyzing milestone in the academic careers of many research scientists, remains lowest for African American applicants at 16.6% compared to 27.8% for White applicants.
Lastly, people of color represent 20% of first-year college students pursuing degrees in science and engineering. The numbers decrease as these students move through their education with 17% receiving a bachelor's degree and only 10% completing advanced degrees in these disciplines.
Dr. Karen E. Knudsen, CEO of the American Cancer Society said the new initiative will help further enhance diversity in cancer research and cancer care and "expand the expert breadth of voices and innovative strategies to accelerate progress against cancer."