Today, June 10, the Cancer Research Institute joins thousands of researchers, university laboratories, scientific societies, technical journals, and others within science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to pause our work as part of #ShutDownSTEM to stand in solidarity behind the Movement for Black Lives and global efforts to dismantle racial inequity and bias in the sciences and beyond.
Recent events have underscored the existence of structural and institutional inequality, prejudice, and racism against Black people and other People of Color that unfairly disenfranchises many and has tragically led to violence and wrongful death.
The mission of the Cancer Research Institute is to save more lives by fueling the discovery and development of powerful immunotherapies for all types of cancer. This applies to all patients with cancer, including members of the Black and POC communities that experience significant disparities in access to quality health care, particularly cancer care. These same racial or ethnic groups also have the highest rates of cancer incidence and mortality among certain cancer types.
CRI is a research-focused organization. We as a scientific community can contribute to closing the gap in cancer care and improving patient outcomes for these communities by redoubling efforts to recruit these patients to clinical trials, or by delving into the genetic factors that potentially contribute to race-associated differences in responses to immunotherapy.
Scientific discovery is best advanced not only through excellence in training and discipline, but also by diversity in thinking and problem solving. To that end, we commit to:
- look for places where our mission intersects with the issues at hand and work to ensure our grant selection process remains fair and equitable;
- seek out research and training collaborations with organizations aimed at increasing racial and ethnic diversity within STEM and the field of immuno-oncology;
- find ways to grow diversity and inclusivity at all levels of CRI beyond our diverse staff, including our Board of Trustees, Scientific Advisory Council, and grant review committees; and
- challenge misconceptions around race and ethnicity by sharing and highlighting the stories we tell about CRI scientists who are People of Color and their important contributions to the field.
We commit to embracing opportunities within our mission to be an agent of change that will contribute to a peaceful and just world for all. If you have suggestions for how the Cancer Research Institute can do more to create a fair and equitable ecosystem of science funding, please share them with us by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your suggestions will be reviewed by staff and shared with our leadership to help guide the organization and our work in the future.
Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, Ph.D.
CEO and Director of Scientific Affairs
Cancer Research Institute