HSC receives $3.9 million grant to expand program that increases diversity among cancer researchers

The following people are on the team: J.K.Vishwanatha Harlan Jones Riyaz Basha Al Yurvati Michael Smith Bruce Bunnell Stephen Mathew Rance Berg Thank you. jk Jamboor K. Vishwanatha, Ph.D. Regents Professor and Vice President Founding Director, Texas Center for Health Disparities PI, National Research Mentoring Network PI, Texas CEAL Consortium

Special to the Business Press

The University of North Texas Health Science Center (HSC) at Fort Worth will significantly expand a program that creates diversity in the medical and biomedical sciences fields thanks to a $3.9 million grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.

Cancer disproportionally affects certain races and ethnicities, creating a disparity in diagnosis and outcomes among these populations. However, those same ethnicities and races are underrepresented in the field of cancer research and oncology.

With the additional funding, HSC has set a goal to train 94 undergraduate, masters, Ph.D., DO/PHD dual degree and post-doctorate scholars in the next five years as part of the HSC Scholars in Cancer Research Program.

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“The program offers a well-designed recruitment plan to attract underrepresented and disadvantaged scholars for research training and to stimulate interest in careers in the treatment of cancer and health disparities,” said Jamboor Vishwanatha, director of the HSC Texas Center for Health Disparities. “Improving patient outcomes requires more diverse teams of health care professionals with complementary expertise.”

The American Association of Clinical Oncology has identified an alarming gap between the demand for oncology professionals and the workforce.

HSC is already a leader among the health science centers in Texas in training biomedical scientists, and rural and primary care physicians. HSC has developed an integrated plan to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in biomedical research at K-12 to faculty career stages.

The HSC Scholars in Cancer Research program will provide evidence-based mentorship training to mentors and students by leveraging resources from the National Research Mentoring Network, which Vishwanatha serves as director. Students will participate in research and education programs that combine cancer research and health disparities, and take part in workshops in responsible conduct of research, experimental design and interprofessional education.

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The program directly supports HSC’s commitment to reduce health disparities and deliver access to quality health care to all Texans, and aligns with HSC strategic goal of building an inclusive and innovative work environment for the future.

“With this funding from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, we will inspire more scholars at critical transition points in health professions to pursue careers focused on cancer, creating a healthier community in Texas and beyond,” Vishwanatha said.