Expanding and Diversifying the Cancer Control Research Community
DCCPS is committed to increasing inclusivity and diversity in cancer control science. As noted earlier in the report, the division places a strong focus on diversity through our programs to train the next generation of researchers. In addition, we are working diligently to establish and promote opportunities for researchers to broaden and expand leadership in science and research.
In 2018, DCCPS released a PAR for Modular R01s in Cancer Control and Population Sciences, an important example of the division’s efforts to expand and diversify the research community. This FOA (PAR-21-190) serves as one way to increase opportunities for investigators, especially early-stage investigators, by encouraging smaller-scale projects for investigators to receive their first R01. We are pleased that preliminary results have shown the Modular PAR mechanism to be successful in that regard, and we will continue to monitor the success of this mechanism in increasing diversity of PIs. Funding R01s to new PIs in cancer research is an important prerequisite for achieving diversity goals.
DCCPS also is committed to facilitating an increase in the number of grants awarded to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs)/minority-serving institutions (MSIs) and institutions in rural states (IDeA states), with seven awards to HBCUs/MSIs in FY 2020 for $3 million. While these awards were less than the 10 awards to HBCUs/MSIs in FY 2019, for $10 million, in the first two rounds of FY 2021, DCCPS has already made awards to 10 HBCUs/MSIs, for nearly $6 million. In FY 2020, DCCPS made awards to 17 institutions in IDeA states, consistent with the number of awards to these institutions in prior years; however, the total cost of awards to IDeA states in FY 2020 was $11.5 million, significantly higher than the average total costs over the prior 10 years, which was $7.4 million.
There is much more work to be done to strengthen diversity, equity, and inclusion in all of our programs and disciplines. In addition to an internal committee working to strengthen DCCPS’s commitment to anti-racism, empathy, and equity through collaborations with leadership at all levels of the organization, DCCPS recognizes that this work must be ongoing and comprehensive across NCI and NIH. We are a proud partner to the NCI Equity Council, which serves as a coordinating body for NCI’s Equity and Inclusion Program. DCCPS staff are actively involved in each of the five working groups to enhance cancer health disparities, promote diversity of thought in the cancer research workforce, promote an inclusive and equitable community across NCI, and devise strategies to improve communications and outreach to the scientific community.
DCCPS is looking forward to strengthening our partnership with the recently announced NIH’s UNITE Initiative. UNITE was established to identify and address structural racism within the NIH-supported and greater scientific community. We believe strongly in the initiative’s charge to improve understanding, transparency, communication, and accountability with our internal and external stakeholders. As we forge ahead in initiating and supporting efforts across the institute, DCCPS recognizes that the diversity of our organization and of our investigator community are strengths that enhance our ability to reduce the burden of cancer in the United States, for all populations.