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#BlackInCancer Week Highlights The Contributions Of Black People In Cancer Medicine And Research – Forbes

Posted: October 15, 2020 at 5:59 pm


The BlackInCancer event aims to highlight the contributions of Black researchers, physicians and ... [+] patient advocates to cancer medicine and research.

An event taking place this week on social media platforms Twitter and Instagram is highlighting the contributions of Black researchers, physicians and patient advocates working in cancer research and medicine.

Black In Cancer week was founded by two cancer research scientists; Dr Henry J. Henderson III, a postdoctoral researcher at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee and Sigourney Bell, a PhD student at the Cancer Research U.K. Institute at the University of Cambridge in the U.K.

We wanted to amplify Black voices and contributions to cancer research in medicine, said Henderson. We wanted to make our presence known because oftentimes we are seen as rare in this space.We are a strong believer of they cant be what they dont see, so this is our way of championing change in the cancer field, he added.

Dr Henry J. Henderson III, PhD, a postdoctoral research scientist at Vanderbilt University focuses ... [+] on optimizing treatments for people with non-small cell lung cancer.

Implicit bias is a major issue. It is rooted in (but not limited to) not being used to seeing Black people as principal investigators, clinicians, etc.This affects everything from research funding to opportunities to progress in our careers, said Henderson.

Together, Bell and Henderson head up an extensive organizing committee of researchers and physicians who have scheduled several online events during the week. With sponsors including Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Tigerlily Foundation and Cancer Research U.K., the events cover several topics from career advice and networking to cancer advocacy and survival disparities.

Figures from the American Society for Clinical Oncology in 2016 showed that although 13% of the U.S. population is Black, only 2.3% of practicing oncologists self identified as Black or African American. For researchers, this is harder to quantify, but it is generally accepted that Black scientists are also grossly under-represented in the cancer research field.

I have been questioned harshly about my research and the authenticity of my authorship, said Henderson. I cannot say that it was because the color of my skin but ironically, several people next to me (who were not Black and are highly represented in the field) did not receive the same treatment, he added.

So what does the BlackInCancer event hope to achieve?

We wanted to create an all inclusive community, said Bell. Research within the lab is not the only way we can work towards more people surviving cancer. Within the Black community, we need more cancer education as well as to build those support networks for those with cancer. Our aim was to create a holistic environment to network, support and educate all Black people that either work in or are affected by cancer, Bell added.

Sigourney Bell, one of the co-founders of BlackInCancer week, is a PhD candidate at the University ... [+] of Cambridge in the U.K. Her research focuses on developing models and therapeutics for a rare childhood brain tumor.

Black people with cancer often experience huge disparities in survival, provision of care and access to clinical trials for experimental treatments. Just last month, the American Association for Cancer Research published a report detailing these disparities, noting that overall, Black Americans have a 14% higher cancer death rate than White Americans.

What impact do the organizers hope that the event will have going forward?

We hope that people will feel more knowledgeable about cancer and more empowered about their health decisions. We hope that researchers are able to find and build their network and that young Black STEM students are able to see what they are able to aspire to, said Bell, adding that for the future, the organizers are planning cancer education initiatives and also mentorship programs for students both in the U.S. and the U.K.

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#BlackInCancer Week Highlights The Contributions Of Black People In Cancer Medicine And Research - Forbes

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