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Dr. John Carpten Becomes the First African American to Chair the National Cancer Advisory Board

, by CRCHD Staff

Dr. John Carpten

National Cancer Advisory Board Chair Dr. John Carpten

On February 10, 2022, John D. Carpten, PhD, led the first standalone meeting of the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB) since he became its Chair and, specifically, the first African American to serve as NCAB Chair. President Joe Biden appointed the world-renowned geneticist and cancer researcher to the distinguished post.

Dr. Carpten serves as Professor and Chair of Translational Genomics, Director of the Institute of Translational Genomics, and Royce and Mary Trotter Chair in Cancer Research at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, as well as Associate Director of Basic Sciences at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The NCI Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD) invited Dr. Carpten and fellow biomedical research leaders to comment on this well-deserved and groundbreaking moment:

Dr. John Carpten

National Cancer Advisory Board Chair Dr. John Carpten

Being selected for the National Cancer Advisory Board is a tremendous honor in and of itself, but then being asked to Chair elevates not only the honor but also increases the responsibility. It is such a critically important post to ensure that the cancer research agenda for our country is clear and robust, and headed in the right direction. The 24-month Sars-CoV2 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on cancer disease management, but the negative impact is also being felt substantially on our Early Stage Investigators. We have to ensure that the pipeline is strong going forward. So, serving as Chair of NCAB in this crucial time imparts a degree of increased significance.

National Cancer Advisory Board Chair John D. Carpten, PhD

Dr. Francis S. Collins

Former NIH Director Dr. Francis S. Collins

John Carpten’s appointment as Chair of the NCAB is a highly appropriate recognition of his leadership in cancer research. Jeff Trent and I had the privilege of serving as John’s NIH postdoc co-mentors in the 1990s. His vision, hard work, experimental talent, and skill in building a remarkable team of African American urologists led to the first major study of genetic factors that predispose black males to prostate cancer. I count John as a lifelong friend. He has gone on to make multiple other contributions to cancer research and translational genomics.

Former NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD

NCI Director Dr. Norman E. Sharpless

Credit: National Institutes of Health

Dr. John Carpten is not only a world-class scientist, he’s also an excellent communicator, leader, and community activist. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing John for almost two decades since we were seated beside each other on an NIH study section and immediately hit it off. John is the first Black person to chair the NCAB, which is a deserved honor for him and a development for the NCI that is long overdue. I’m so glad to be working with him in pursuit of our mission, including our quest to end disparities in cancer outcomes and care.

NCI Director Norman E. Sharpless, MD

Dr. Sanya A. Springfield

Dr. Sanya A. Springfield Director, NCI Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities

This is an historic moment. For decades my friend Dr. John Carpten has been a staunch supporter of cancer health disparities research and building a more-diverse cancer research workforce. He has driven these fields forward through his stellar research, invaluable mentorship, community partnership, and pioneering leadership, including being the first African American to serve as Program Chair of the AACR Annual Meeting. Communities of color in cancer and cancer health disparities research are extremely proud of and amazed by John becoming the first African American Chair of the NCAB, which is a truly illustrious position. He represents a wonderful role model for us in cancer and cancer health disparities research.

NCI CRCHD Director Sanya A. Springfield, PhD

Dr. Margaret Foti

AACR Chief Executive Officer Dr. Margaret Foti

We are thrilled about Dr. Carpten’s appointment as Chair of the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB). He is a brilliant scientist and an inspiring leader. He serves with distinction as an esteemed member of the AACR Board of Directors and is an elected Fellow of the AACR Academy. Dr. Carpten has made pioneering contributions to our understanding of the biological basis of cancer disparities, and his work at the leading edge of cancer genomics has led to landmark discoveries of prostate cancer susceptibility genes. As Program Chair of the AACR’s 2019 Annual Meeting, he was instrumental in shaping the scientific agenda for the enjoyment of tens of thousands of scientists around the world. He has also served as Chair of the AACR’s Minorities in Cancer Research Council, and he led the Steering Committee that produced the inaugural AACR Cancer Disparities Progress Report in 2020. We look forward to all that he will surely accomplish in his new role at the helm of the NCAB.

AACR Chief Executive Officer Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc)

Among his research achievements, Dr. Carpten was critical to the establishment of the African American Hereditary Prostate Cancer Consortium and the Barbados National Cancer Study. He serves as a Principal Investigator for the Florida-California Cancer Research, Education and Engagement (CaRE 2) Health Equity Center, an NCI CRCHD-supported Comprehensive Partnership to Advance Cancer Health Equity (U54), and the Research on Prostate Cancer in Men of African Ancestry: Defining the Roles of Genetics, Tumor Markers, and Social Stress (RESPOND) study.