Disparities in cancer incidence and mortality rates among different ethnic/racial groups has been well recognized; however, research in this area has lagged behind, partly due to a shortage of cancer researchers and physicians from underrepresented minorities. North Carolina is among the most diverse states in the nation, and ranks ninth with respect to African American population. African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and Native Americans are 33% of the state's population. Accordingly, there is obvious cancer disparity. Thus, we created the ?North Carolina Summer Undergraduate Prostate Cancer Research Program (NC-SUPR)? which offers summer research experiences to undergraduates from two local HBCUs. The program was supported by the Department of Defense for the last two years, and successfully implemented. Based on this fruitful experience, we have arranged a larger consortium of ?Cancer Equity Research Training at North Carolina (CERT-NC)? by four Universities, including two local HBCUs. We now propose to create a new R25 training program for promoting diversity of cancer research at Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive Cancer Center (WFBCCC). The objective of this training program is to promote and enhance diversity of the future cancer research workforce, by providing undergraduates from under-represented populations with opportunities for short-term research experiences.
Our Specific Aims are to: (i) Recruit highly qualified underrepresented minority undergraduates through CERT-NC and nationwide; (ii) Engage participants in hands-on research activities in basic and translational laboratories and expose them to cutting-edge cancer research; (iii) Provide mentorship and guidance to participants for their career development; and (iv) Guide students in future career development and track their progress. Our proposed program includes multiple innovative approaches. First, it will build on the experience of the successful NC-SUPR program, while expanding its scope. Second, the program will use the unique consortium, CERT-NC, which consists of WFBCCC, two local HBCUs, and another regional college with a large enrollment of Native Americans. Third, we will implement the ?Ambassador program?, which provides students with community outreach experience. Fourth, the program's distinguished faculty will provide education so that participants achieve a grasp of cancer biology basics and learn about state-of-the-art technologies for precision medicine and drug development. Fifth, the program offers career guidance from underrepresented minority faculty as ?Career mentors?. Lastly, the program will be strengthened by interactions with other summer research programs at Wake Forest University. Thus, participants will interact with other underrepresented minority students and establish peer networks for future career development. Our program features faculty committed to mentorship and a diverse scientific environment with exposure to cutting-edge approaches to cancer biology, and can implement proven methods for recruitment and follow-up for efficient and effective administration of a vibrant training program.

Public Health Relevance

We propose a new program, ?Cancer Equity Research Training at North Carolina (CERT-NC)?, to promote diversity in the future cancer research workforce by providing undergraduates from under-represented minorities with summer research experiences. A consortium of four universities, including two local HBCUs and another local college with a large enrollment of Native Americans, will host participants. Students will engage in hands-on research activities in basic and translational laboratories, and be exposed to cutting-edge cancer research at Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive Cancer Center.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Education Projects (R25)
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Subcommittee I - Transistion to Independence (NCI)
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Davani, Behrous
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Wake Forest University Health Sciences
Schools of Medicine
United States
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