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MICR Newsletter

Spring 2019

Message from the MICR Chairperson

Laura Fejerman, PhD, associate professor in residence, Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, Institute of Human Genetics, Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California San Francisco, Berkeley, California

This year, I have the honor to serve as chairperson for the MICR Council. I intend to continue pushing forward the council’s original commitment to increase the number, participation, visibility, and recognition of minority scientists in cancer research, develop programs that address the professional needs of minority scientists in cancer research, and provide diversity in the field and within the AACR’s membership, programs, committees, and leadership.
Read more.

MICR Accomplishments at the Annual Meeting
A Perspective by Dr. Brian M. Rivers

Greetings MICR Constituents!

Whew, have you been able to exhale?! What an incredible Annual Meeting! By far, this had to be one of the best professional meetings of my career. Congratulations
to Dr. John D. Carpten, Program Chair, and the 2019 American Association for
Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting Program Committee. The representation of cancer disparities research in the Annual Program was laudable and its
receptivity exemplifies the advances that have been made in the field. As the recent past Chairperson of the Minorities in Cancer Research (MICR) Council, I could not be any more full of gratitude for your attendance and participation in the MICR activities during the Annual Meeting. Attendance was not only robust, but session participants engagement with speakers was thought-provoking and captivating.

I was also extremely excited to witness your participation in the AACR-MICR Distinguished Lectureship Series (DLS). The lectureship, titled “The Impact of Global Health Research on Advancing Cancer Health Equity in the U.S.,” appropriately took place on the campus of Morehouse School of Medicine
(MSM), whose vision is leading the creation and advancement of health equity. The
purpose of DLS is to bring together leading researchers who present the latest
developments in cancer research to students and faculty at Minority-Serving
Institutions (MSI’s). These lectures are intended to inspire young minority
students and educators at MSIs to pursue cancer research.

Global health research presents a tremendous opportunity to better understand the role of Epigenetics in health outcomes. Epigenetics, the study of how environmental and social experiences across the lifespan affect gene function, ultimately influencing health trajectories or modifying disease risk. In this session,
participants engaged in scientific discourse relative to epigenomic investigations in racial/ethnic minority and health disparity populations. Faculty, students, and community members were invited to engage in bidirectional conversations to increase awareness and understanding of how global efforts to eradicate the burden of cancer can contribute to the advancement of cancer health equity in the U.S. Attendees were welcomed by the president and dean of Morehouse School of Medicine, Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice. Dr. Carpten brought greetings on behalf of the Program Committee and provided a comprehensive overview of the breadth of science to be presented during the Annual Meeting. Dr. Clayton Yates served as moderator of the highly esteemed panel of scholars and opened the session with an overview of the global burden of cancer. Dr. Melissa B. Davis presented her recent findings building on her work drawing a definitive link between tumor immune cell landscapes and West African Ancestry in the context of breast cancer disparities. Dr. Camille C.R. Ragin shared cutting edge findings from the African-Caribbean Cancer Consortium, a research group designed to promote collaboration between cancer researchers whose work focuses on the African diaspora. Additionally, Dr. Edith A. Perez presented her latest experiences in the biopharmaceutical environment in Central and South America.

Ms. Mary Dicey Scroggins, recipient of the 2016 AACR Distinguished Public Service
Award, joined the dynamic speakers on a panel to discuss the role of advocacy
in research. In each of these AACR-MICR events, considerable collaboration and support was garnered by AACR, MSM and other Atlanta/Georgia universities as well as the community in which we work, play and serve.

Overall extremely positive feedback continues to pour in attesting to the quality and impact of the work. AACR CEO, Dr. Margaret Foti, AACR-MICR staff, and the MSM leadership, faculty and staff are owed a debt of gratitude for the considerable effort to accomplish this major feat. Thank you to all involved for your continued support of MICR and we look forward to seeing you in San Francisco, California, for the 12th AACR Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities Special Conference in September 2019!


Brian M. Rivers,
Past MICR Council

John M. Carethers, MD, MACP, Recipient of the 2019 AACR-Minorities in Cancer Research Jane Cooke Wright Memorial Lectureship

MICR is proud to congratulate Dr. John M. Carethers on his receipt of the 2019 AACR-Minorities in Cancer Research Jane Cooke Wright Memorial Lectureship. Dr. Carethers presented his award lecture, “A Role for Inflammation-induced DNA Mismatch Repair Deficits in Racial Outcome from Advanced Colorectal Cancer,” during the AACR Annual Meeting 2019.

Jane Cooke Wright Memorial Lectureship was first presented in 2006 and is intended to give recognition to an outstanding scientist who has made meritorious contributions to the field of cancer research and who has, through leadership or by example, furthered the advancement of minority investigators in cancer research.

John M. Carethers, MD, is the C. Richard Boland distinguished university professor and John G. Searle professor and chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan since November 2009. As chair, he oversees over 700 paid faculty in their academic, clinical, and teaching roles as they relate to the overall integration with the health system’s missions of clinical excellence, education, and discovery. Dr. Carethers is a trained gastroenterologist and physician-scientist who focuses his research in the area of hereditary colon cancer genetics.

Dr. Carethers received his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences with a minor in chemistry from Wayne State University, and his medical degree with high distinction from the same institution. Dr. Carethers did his internship and residency in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, followed by a fellowship in gastroenterology at the University of Michigan. He was then recruited to the University of California San Diego where he grew his laboratory-based research in the area of DNA mismatch repair and colorectal cancer pathogenesis, and saw medicine and gastroenterology patients, including serving as the main physician for hereditary colon cancer referrals in Southern California. He served in leadership roles including the gastroenterology fellowship director, the gastroenterology section chief for the San Diego VA Hospital, and then division chief for UC San Diego before being recruited to Michigan. He was the founding director of the NIH-funded UCSD Gastroenterology Center grant, and was the director of the gastroenterology T32 training grant. His laboratory research continues to be funded by the NIH.

Dr. Carethers also has interests in colorectal cancer disparities as they relate to genetics and outcomes. He is the former PI of the SDSU/UCSD Cancer Center Comprehensive Partnership U54 grant, which addresses cancer disparities. He has published over 150 manuscripts and book chapters. He is a senior associate editor for Gastroenterology, the highest impact gastroenterology journal. He completed a two-year appointment on the National Commission for Digestive Diseases, a U.S. Congressional Commission after his appointment by Elias Zerhouni, MD, then director of the NIH. He was elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, and elected member of the American Association of Physicians (AAP), and serves on the AAP Council. He was elected member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 2012.

As chair of internal medicine at the University of Michigan, Dr. Carethers has been involved in, and directed initiatives related to, quality, palliative care, basic and clinical research, faculty and leadership recruitment, clinical program development, research program development, philanthropy, strategic planning, and education expansion including CME and MOC, among others.

Dr. Carethers research demonstrates how human DNA mismatch repair proteins recognize fluorouracil within DNA, providing rationale for observed tumor resistance, and for dissecting the relationship between inflammation, mismatch repair inactivation, and health disparities in colorectal cancer patients.

Dr. Carethers’ work reflects a commitment to research areas that have the potential to influence cancer care nationally and internationally.

Congratulations to the Recipients of the Annual Meeting 2019 MICR-Sponsored Travel Awards

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2019 MICR-sponsored travel awards for the AACR Annual Meeting 2019! Each year, MICR is proud to welcome both Minority and Minority-Serving Institution Faculty Scholar in Cancer Research Awardees and Minority Scholar in Cancer Research Awardees to the Annual Meeting where awardees present their meritorious abstracts and participate in MICR activities that broaden the benefits of this travel award. Awardees come from a diverse assortment of institutions and research backgrounds and we are proud to have the them represent the growing community of minority investigators.

Advocates’ Forum

Advocates’ Forum Chairperson, Mary Dicey Scroggins, talks with eCancer TV during an interview which took place during the AACR Annual Meeting 2019. Ms. Scroggins talks about inequity in health care, investing in the developing world, affordability and access, and being a health care activist.

Watch the interview.

Reflecting on MICR during the Annual Meeting 2019

What a historic AACR Annual Meeting! This year the Annual Meeting took particular focus on cancer health disparities. MICR Council Chair-elect, John D. Carpten, PhD, served as Annual Meeting Program Committee chair — the first African-American to serve in this role. MICR was proud to host events in support of this Annual Meeting and were happy to have you, the MICR membership, there to share in these outstanding sessions:

Minorities in Cancer Research Council Meet and Greet

Thank you to all who were able to attend the MICR Council Meet and Greet which took place in the Minorities in Cancer Research Networking and Resource Center during the Annual Meeting. Each year, this gathering serves as a great introduction to the Annual Meeting for both new and past attendees. Always an energizing time, it was great to see the many members of MICR who shared in this event.

Minorities in Cancer Research Town Meeting

We are proud to say that this year’s MICR Town Meeting was one of the most popular sessions among this year’s MICR members who attended the Annual Meeting. From the special remarks from Dr. John Carpten reflecting on his historical role as his year’s meeting as Program Committee chair, to the recognition of the members who are rotating off of the MICR Council, this Town Meeting was a success!

Minorities in Cancer Research Scientific Symposium: Tumor Biology Correlates of Population Differences in Environmental Exposures

This MICR Scientific Symposium reflected upon the result of the complex interaction between structural inequalities, cultural and individual lifestyle choices, and population specific genetic/genomic architecture. This session was full of insightful talks and dynamic discussions from both panel members and attendees.

Save the Date: 12th AACR Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved

The 12th AACR Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved will take place Sept. 20-23, 2019, in San Francisco, California. This conference, aimed to advance the understanding of, and ultimately help to eliminate, the disparities that represent a major public health problem in our country, is held in association with the Minorities in Cancer Research Council.

Learn more.

AACR and MICR Focus on Cancer Health Disparities

MICR Council Chair, Laura Fejerman, PhD, Featured in Nature
In this article published by Nature, MICR Council Chairperson, Dr. Laura Fejerman, gives her insights on the complexities of cancer disparities and challenges faced by researchers in this emerging field.

Read more.

Research Funding and Scholar/Travel Awards

AACR and MICR are pleased to present awards, fellowships, and grants to outstanding scientists for recognition of their scientific contributions and to support their participation in AACR conferences, increase the breadth of their research, and promote further learning and career advancement.