The University of Illinois Cancer Center in Chicago engaged leaders from National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), pharmaceutical companies and cancer advocacy organizations for a webinar focused on structural solutions for diverse clinical trials.
The webinar, “ASSETS: Building Trustworthiness in Clinical Research,” discussed strategies to remove barriers that historically and presently exclude underresourced and minoritized communities from participating in cancer trials, thus not benefitting from those treatments. Those strategies include decentralizing trials across networks and implementing trials in Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), safety-net facilities and community hospitals.
Among the featured speakers on the December webinar were:
- Robert Winn, MD, VCU Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center Director and Association of American Cancer Institute President
- Karriem Watson, DHSc, MS, MPH, NIH All of Us Research Program Chief Engagement Officer
- Marvella Ford, PhD, MUSC Hollings Cancer Center Associate Director of Population Science and Community Outreach and Engagement
- Electra Paskett, PhD, Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center Deputy Director for Population Sciences and Community Outreach
- Mary Salazar, DNP, MSN, ANP-BC, RN, Mays Cancer Center UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center Director of the Oncology Patient Experience
- Maimah Karmo, MBA, Tigerlily Foundation Founder and CEO
- Rochelle Williams-Belizaire, MPH, CPH, Mirati Therapeutics Director of Clinical Research Collaborations
- Ruma Bhagat MD, MPH, Genentech Principal Portfolio Leader for Health Equity and Population Science
- Carmen White, MBA, Pfizer Research and Development Division Director of Multicultural Participant Experience
- Sara “Betsy” Adams, MD, Tidelands Health Medical Director of Cancer Services
- Ysabel Duron, The Latino Cancer Institute Founder and Executive Director
- Pete Fronte, MBA, Altura President and CEO
- Terri Matson, Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center Executive Director for Clinical and Translational Research
- Arielle Guzmán, MPH, University of Illinois Cancer Center Clinical Research Coordinator
- Marta Soto, lung cancer survivor
Diverse Cancer Trials Mission
University of Illinois Cancer Center Director Jan Kitajewski, PhD, opened the webinar, Deputy Director and medical oncologist VK Gadi, MD, PhD, was a panelist, and Associate Director for Community Outreach and Engagement Yamile Molina, PhD, moderated the webinar. All three are among the architects of the Cancer Center’s equitable precision oncology mission to diversify enrollment in clinical trials. At the Cancer Center, 78% of clinical trial participants are African American or Latino, a testament to the robust partnership between the offices of Oncology Clinical Trials and Community Engagement and Health Equity.
The Cancer Center’s catchment area is Cook County, a minority-majority county that includes Chicago and is home to more than 5 million people. The Cancer Center’s framework for diverse clinical trials includes robust community outreach, engagement, involvement and education; working with trial sponsors to revise enrollment criteria; and creating investigator-initiated-trials tailored to our specific communities.
The webinar was the fourth in a series of five workshops, which included free in-person panel discussions with patients, providers, sponsors and community groups in the Cook County area. The final workshop in the series is an in-person event planned for February.