|NCI encouraging African Americans to consider a career in Cancer Research|
It's May, and students across the country are graduating from colleges, universities, and high schools.
Akinso: It's May, and students across the country are graduating from colleges, universities, and high schools. The graduates are considering future careers, and the National Cancer Institute wants to encourage these graduates, especially African Americans to consider a career in cancer research. Ms. Belinda Locke, Program Director at the NCI's Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities, talks about what the NCI has to offer young future researchers.
Locke: One of the strategic programs that we have on board is called a Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences, and this has been in place since the late 90s. And we've added onto that program other types of what we call funding mechanisms at the NIH that support individuals from the high school level all the way through the junior investigator level as they go through their academic career to become established competitive investigators.
Akinso: The Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences program offers research grants, awards and supplements in an effort to increase the number of underrepresented minority candidates, emphasizes scientific areas of greatest need, and expands the period of training and career development. Ms. Locke says there are many reasons why African Americans aren't big players in the cancer research field.
Locke: I think perhaps we don't emphasize careers in science in general in our communities as much as we should and specifically careers in cancer research. And there also is the issue of the long term commitment to education. So there's maybe not as much emphasis in our communities toward that type of commitment, toward careers in science. There may be stereotypes that are in place concerning what individuals think a career in research involves. It covers a wide range that perhaps people don't know about. You can do research in your community, outreach research, behavioral research, and all this is counted as cancer research. And there is also an issue also of the visibility of mentors and folks that look like us being in research careers dealing with cancer research issues.
Akinso: Ms. Locke discusses a collaborative program between the NCI and Historical Black Colleges and Universities, which are known by the acronym HBCUs.
Locke: With the HBCUs specifically we have a program that is called a Minority Institution Cancer Center Partnership Program. And what that program does, it joins the cancer centers with the minority-serving institution and in this case a HBCU, so for example in this area we have Howard University joined with John Hopkins University. And we look at the cancer centers typically as research intensive institutions. And we look at the HBCUs or the minority-serving institutions as those institutions that really have a large population of so-called underrepresented minority individuals who are in the African American community who are in the academic system that can be trained and exposed to cancer research.
Akinso: If you're interested in the cancer research field, visit crchd.cancer.gov. Click on meet the staff and contact any of the individuals about your interest in the field. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.