Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Making cancer research more inclusive

We have been aware for some time that cancer research, from careers to clinical trials, is not as inclusive as it should be. The Black Lives Matter movement and protests against racism have emphasized that the time has come to stop talking about the lack of diversity, health inequities and structural racism in cancer research and instead work towards solutions. In that spirit, and on the basis of a virtual discussion during the American Association for Cancer Research 2020 Annual Meeting, we asked several scientists actively working to increase representation of Black American populations in cancer research how they are addressing these issues.

References

  1. 1.

    Howard Newsroom Staff. Howard University, FDA, and GlaxoSmithKline fellowship program. Howard University College of Pharmacy https://pharmacy.howard.edu/articles/howard-university-fda-and-glaxosmithkline-fellowship-program (2018).

  2. 2.

    Howard Newsroom Staff. Howard University, Genentech, FDA announce innovative regulatory policy fellowship program. Howard Newsroom https://newsroom.howard.edu/newsroom/article/13561/howard-university-genentech-fda-announce-innovative-regulatory-policy (2020).

  3. 3.

    Garraway, L. A. Believe the miracles: of biomedical science and human suffering. J. Clin. Invest. 126, 4716–4722 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Kim, E. S. et al. Broadening eligibility criteria to make clinical trials more representative: American Society of Clinical Oncology and Friends of Cancer Research Joint Research Statement. J. Clin. Oncol. 35, 3737–3744 (2017).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Popejoy, A. B. & Fullerton, S. M. Genomics is failing on diversity. Nature 538, 161–164 (2016).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Spratt, D. E. et al. Racial/ethnic disparities in genomic sequencing. JAMA Oncol. 2, 1070–1074 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Salama, C. et al. Tocilizumab in patients hospitalized with Covid-19 pneumonia. N. Engl. J. Med. 384, 20–30 (2021).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Huang, F. W. et al. Exome sequencing of African-American prostate cancer reveals loss-of-function ERF mutations. Cancer Discov. 7, 973–983 (2017).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Bose, R. et al. ERF mutations reveal a balance of ETS factors controlling prostate oncogenesis. Nature 546, 671–675 (2017).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    O’Hare, R. Arthritis drugs may reduce mortality and time in ICU for sickest COVID patients. Imperial College London https://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/211514/arthritis-drugs-reduce-mortality-time-icu/ (2021).

  11. 11.

    King M. L. Jr. Letter from Birmingham jail (1963).

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

John D. Carpten is an internationally recognized expert in genome science and possesses unique training in multiple disciplines, including germline genetics for disease risk and predisposition, somatic cancer genomics, health disparities research, cell biology, functional genomics and precision medicine.

Lola Fashoyin-Aje is a medical oncologist and Deputy Director of Division of Oncology 3 in the Office of Oncologic Diseases and an Associate Director in the Oncology Center of Excellence at the US Food and Drug Administration, leading scientific and policy initiatives aimed at promoting inclusive drug development.

Levi A. Garraway is Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President, Head of Global Product Development, at Roche and Genentech. In previous roles, he served as an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, an associate professor of medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, and an institute member of the Broad Institute.

Robert Winn is Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center as well as a pulmonologist and physician-scientist. His research focuses on lung cancer, health disparities and community-based health care. Additionally, he has served as the principal investigator on several community-based projects, including the All of Us Research Program.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to John D. Carpten, Lola Fashoyin-Aje, Levi A. Garraway or Robert Winn.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

J.D.C. receives honoraria as a current member of the external advisory council for the Genentech (Roche) Advancing Inclusive Research Program, receives honoraria as a current member of the scientific advisory board for Break Through Cancer, receives honoraria as a current member of the scientific advisory council for Stand Up To Cancer, is a current member of the board of directors of the American Association of Cancer Research and is a current member of the board of directors of Tower Cancer Research Foundation. L.A.G. is an employee and shareholder of Roche and is an equity holder of Tango Therapeutics. L.F.-A. and R.W. declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Related links

American Association of Cancer Research’s (AACR’s) Minorities in Cancer Research (MICR) Council: https://www.aacr.org/professionals/membership/constituency-groups/minorities-in-cancer-research/micr-council/

Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities: https://www.cancer.gov/about-nci/organization/crchd

Florida-California Cancer Research Education and Engagement (CaRE2): https://care2usc.org/

National Institutes of Health Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation (FIRST): https://commonfund.nih.gov/first

National Medical Fellowships: https://nmfonline.org/

NCI Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE): https://www.cancer.gov/about-nci/organization/crchd/diversity-training/cure

Oncology Center of Excellence Summer Scholars Program: https://www.fda.gov/about-fda/scientific-internships-fellowships-trainees-and-non-us-citizens/oce-summer-scholars-program

ORISE: https://orise.orau.gov/fda/

Partnerships to Advance Cancer Health Equity (PACHE): https://www.cancer.gov/about-nci/organization/crchd/diversity-training/pache

Postdoctoral Fellowship in Genomic Science and Health Equity: https://www.genome.gov/careers-training/research-training/postdoctoral-fellowship-in-genomic-science-and-health-equity

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Carpten, J.D., Fashoyin-Aje, L., Garraway, L.A. et al. Making cancer research more inclusive. Nat Rev Cancer 21, 613–618 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41568-021-00369-7

Download citation

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing