The University of Illinois Cancer Center wrapped up its inaugural Structural Solutions for Diverse Cancer Trials (ASSETS) series by hosting a fifth panel discussion, this time at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in the Cook County community of Hazel Crest.

A highly engaged crowd of cancer survivors, patients, family members, advocates, community leaders, oncologists, academic leaders and pharmaceutical representatives gathered in the hospital’s auditorium to share their diverse perspectives on structural solutions for diverse clinical trials to build trustworthiness in clinical research.

The strategies would remove barriers that historically and presently exclude underresourced and minoritized communities from participating in cancer trials, thus not benefiting from those treatments. Examples of successful solutions include decentralization of clinical trials across networks and trial implementation in Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), safety-net facilities and community hospitals.


The ASSETS series, a project led by the Cancer Center’s Associate Director for Community Outreach and Engagement Yamile Molina, PhD, began in August 2023 with its first panel discussion at the 100 Black Men of Chicago Health and Wellness Expo at Chicago State University. Following that were two more in-person events: a pre-conference workshop in October in conjunction with MOLA (Medical Organization for Latino Advancement), a non-profit association of Hispanic/Latino physicians and health professionals, and then in November at Loretto Hospital in the Chicago West Side community of Austin. In December, an ASSETS webinar engaged leaders from National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), pharmaceutical companies and cancer advocacy organizations.

Molina is among the architects of the Cancer Center’s equitable precision oncology mission to diversify enrollment in clinical trials. The Cancer Center has 79% minority enrollment in its clinical trials, a testament to the robust partnership between the offices of Oncology Clinical Trials and Community Engagement and Health Equity in COE.

ASSETS sponsors included Exelixis, Genentech, Pfizer, Mirati, Equal Hope and Advocate Health Care.

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