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Striving to Eliminate Ovarian Cancer Disparities

Tomi Associate Professor Duke University

Tomi—North Carolina | Associate Professor, Duke University

Credit: LKT Photography, Inc.

Tomi Akinyemiju, Ph.D., an epidemiologist studying disparities in ovarian cancer, wants patients to have equal access to quality treatment. Her global background—born in the United States but with much of her youth spent in Africa—is one of the factors that led her to focus on cancer disparities research. To eliminate racial differences in survival, “we need to ensure all women with ovarian cancer have access to and benefit from the best first-line treatments available, regardless of their race,” she says.

Tomi received an R01 grant from NCI on her first submission and was thrilled to learn a week later that it would be converted to an NCI ESI MERIT R37 award. The R37 award allows eligible early-stage investigators like Tomi the opportunity for a 2-year extension of additional support beyond the typical 5 years for an R01 grant.

Her research aims to help predict why women of different population groups are less likely to receive high-quality ovarian cancer treatment. Tomi believes that racial differences in access are not simply about socioeconomic status. They also involve patient–doctor relationships built on trust, access to hospitals and medical centers that specialize in treating cancer, and other factors. Tomi is grateful for the opportunity of the additional years of research support, which she will put to good use trying to help women with ovarian cancer.

This graph shows that R01 awards provide 5 years of funding versus R37 MERIT Awards, which provide 7 years of funding.
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