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AACR Journal Publishes Commentary on Racism and Diversity in Cancer Research

PHILADELPHIA – Cancer Discovery, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), today published a commentary on the persistent bias and racism against Black and other underrepresented minority (URM) scientists in academia. The paper proposes steps cancer researchers and their institutions can take to improve diversity and racial equity among students, faculty, and patients.

In “The Race toward Equity: Increasing Racial Diversity in Cancer Research and Cancer Care,” Donita C. Brady, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania and Ashani T. Weeraratna, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University call for several changes, including:

  • Diversify the cancer research workforce at all levels by maintaining investment in the training pipeline for Black and other URM students; developing partnerships between minority-serving educational institutions and cancer centers; creating dedicated, formal mentoring programs; implementing deliberate and robust URM recruitment; expanding financial support for URM trainees; training non-URM faculty to recognize and mitigate implicit bias; and more.
  • Improve the representation of URM patients in clinical trials.
  • Increase the number of URM physicians in the cancer field.
  • Rebuild trust in hospitals and medical providers.

The full paper is available for download here.

As the cancer research community grapples with the pervasive racism and racial inequities laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic and the horrific murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others, the AACR has provided a forum for members to discuss these issues and the way forward. Recent panel discussions have included:

Racism and Racial Inequities in Cancer Research

Panelists included John Carpten, PhD, chairperson of the AACR’s Minorities in Cancer Research Council; Ken Frazier, chief executive officer of Merck; Levi Garraway, MD, PhD, FAACR, chief medical officer of Roche; National Institutes of Health and U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials; and many others. This powerful, wide-ranging conversation covered the reality of discrimination and inequality in all areas of cancer research and treatment; achieving social justice and equality for all, regardless of skin color; eliminating cancer health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities by increasing minority representation in clinical trials; and ensuring diversity and recognition of the accomplishments of minority scientists and clinicians in the cancer work force. You can watch the session here.

Minorities in Cancer Research Scientific Symposium: Health Inequities and Disparities in the COVID-19 Pandemic and Impact on Cancer Care Among Racial and Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved

Robert A. Winn, MD, director of Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center, provided opening remarks and helped moderate this discussion with experts who presented observations, evidence, and perspective on the health inequities and disparities related to the COVID-19 pandemic and how it is significantly exacerbating disparities in cancer care among racial and ethnic minorities and the medically underserved. You can watch the session here.