National Cancer Institute Brings Together 13 Cancer Equity Leaders

April 8, 2024
Group will help Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities determine NCI’s diversity training, biomedical workforce development, and community outreach and engagement initiatives

The National Cancer Institute Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD) has announced the Cancer Equity Leaders (CEL) group, a diverse team of premier cancer research leaders who will reimagine and transform the future of cancer health equity. 
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CRCHD was created in 2001 to help reduce the unequal burden of cancer by:

• Leading NCI’s efforts in workforce diversity by training students and investigators from diverse backgrounds.


• Strengthening NCI’s cancer research portfolio in basic, clinical, translational, and population-based research to address cancer health disparities through collaborations with NCI Divisions, Offices, and Centers.


• Building regional networks to foster collaboration, enhance capacity in disparities research and career development, and disseminate culturally appropriate, evidence-based cancer information to underserved communities.


• Providing technical expertise, information, and advice to NCI leadership on strategic priorities, program direction, and scientific policy to strengthen diversity training opportunities and cancer health disparities research.

The Cancer Equity Leaders group will work toward three objectives:

• Assess the landscape to elucidate critical strengths and gaps in cancer equity infrastructure.

• Prioritize the critical needs for expanding institutional capacity and achieving cancer health equity.

• Develop a strategic agenda to enhance the National Cancer Plan.


Through this work, the CEL will contribute to the understanding of cancer health equity and help CRCHD determine NCI’s diversity training, biomedical workforce development, and community outreach and engagement initiatives.

CRCHD said the CEL comprises 13 well-renowned cancer center and medical school leaders, with extensive expertise iand exceptional knowledge and understanding of all stages of the cancer continuum. 

In 2025, the CEL team will host an event to hear and learn diverse perspectives across the cancer community to further advance NCI’s health equity efforts.

This initiative will be co-chaired by NCI CRCHD Director Sanya A. Springfield, Ph.D., and Karen Winkfield, M.D., Ph.D., Executive Director of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance and Associate Director for Community Outreach & Engagement at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.
 
THE CEL members are:

• John Carpten, Ph.D.
, Director, City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center
, Director, Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope, 
Chief Scientific Officer
, Irell & Manella Cancer Center Director’s Distinguished Chair, 
Morgan & Helen Chu Director’s Chair of the Beckman Research Institute
, City of Hope

• Marcia Cruz-Correa, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Medicine & Biochemistry, University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus, 
Investigator, UPR Comprehensive Cancer Center

• Chanita Hughes-Halbert, Ph.D.
, Vice Chair for Research and Professor, Department of Population and Public Health Sciences, 
Dr. Arthur and Priscilla Ulene Chair in Women’s Cancer, Keck School of Medicine 
Associate Director for Cancer Equity, Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center
, University of Southern California

• Juanita Merchant, M.D., Ph.D.
, Chief of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Regents Professor of Medicine, 
Associate Director for Basic Science, UACC
 Interim Director, UA Comprehensive Cancer Center
, University of Arizona, Tucson

• Ruben Mesa, M.D., 
President, Atrium Health Levine Cancer, 
Executive Director, Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive Cancer Center
, Enterprise Senior Vice President, Atrium Health, 
Vice Dean for Cancer Programs, Wake Forest University School of Medicine
, The Charles L. Spurr MD Professor of Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine

• Valerie Montgomery Rice, M.D., 
President and Chief Executive Officer
, Morehouse School of Medicine

• Kunle Odunsi, M.D., Ph.D.
, Director, University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center
, Dean for Oncology, Biological Sciences Division, 
The AbbVie Foundation, Distinguished Service Professor
, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 
University of Chicago

• Taofeek Owonikoko, M.D., Ph.D.
, Director, University of Maryland Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center
, Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Professor in Oncology, Department of Medicine, 
Executive Director, UMSOM Program in Oncology
, Senior Associate Dean for Cancer Programs, University of Maryland School of Medicine
, Associate Vice President for Cancer Programs, University of Maryland, Baltimore

• Ben Ho Park, M.D., Ph.D.
, Director, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, 
Benjamin F. Byrd Jr. Chair in Oncology, 
Professor of Medicine
, Division of Hematology/Oncology, 
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

• Yolanda Sanchez, Ph.D.
, The Maurice and Marguerite Liberman Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research, 
Professor, Department of Internal Medicine
, Director & CEO, University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center

• Selwyn Vickers, M.D.
, President and CEO, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

• Cheryl Willman, M.D.
, The Stephen and Barbara Slaggie Enterprise Executive Director, Mayo Clinic Cancer Programs
, Director, Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center
, The David A. Ahlquist, M.D. Professorship in Cancer Research
, Professor and Consultant, 
Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, 
Mayo Clinic College of Medicine & Science

• Robert Winn, M.D., 
Director and Lipman Chair in Oncology, VCU Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center
, Senior Associate Dean for Cancer Innovation and Professor of Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine
, VCU School of Medicine

CRCHD supports 16 partnerships among investigators at institutions that serve communities with cancer health disparities, including communities served by NCI-Designated Cancer Centers, through its Partnerships to Advance Cancer Health Equity (PACHE) program.

It has established seven regional networks to foster collaboration, resource-sharing, and capacity-building among cancer health disparities researchers, trainees, outreach workers, and organizations through the Geographic Management of Cancer Health Disparities Program (GMaP).

CRCHD also funds more than 24 community health educators (CHEs) at 24 NCI-Designated Cancer Centers who serve as critical links between disparities researchers and racially and ethnically diverse local communities through the National Outreach Network (NON).

 

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