2 National Cancer Institute Programs Working to Bring Minorities into Cancer Research

BETHESDA, Md. — The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is opening doors for African- Americans and others from under-served communities to join the cancer research enterprise.  Through two key programs, NCI aims to encourage more researchers from under-served communities to join the field and prepare underrepresented scientists for the rigors of a research career.

The Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) program provides training and career development opportunities to researchers as young as high school students all the way up to junior investigators. The program helps researchers enhance their skills and opportunities through formal networking and mentoring, and it provides a range of funding opportunities for CURE participants. And the Partnerships to Advance Cancer Health Equity (PACHE) program offers intensive training opportunities for participants by fostering partnerships between NCI-designated cancer centers and academic institutions that provide services to racially and ethnically diverse or underserved communities. The PACHE program has a total of 17 partnership sites. Both CURE and PACHE are run by the NCI Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities.

The center was created in 2001 to reduce the unequal burden of cancer in our society and train the next generation of competitive researchers in cancer and cancer health disparities research. The commitment to enhance diversity in biomedical research also extends to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), NCI’s parent agency.  NIH is working to increase the ranks of researchers from underserved communities and to enhance opportunities for more researchers of color to obtain research funding through a formal Working Group on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce. From 2000 to 2008, African-Americans earned just 1,900 of the 82,000 doctoral degrees in biology, chemistry, and physics awarded by U.S. institutions, according to the National Science Foundation.

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