publication date: Dec. 4, 2020

NCI Director’s Report

Sharpless: “This is one of the most uncertain budget environments that I think the NCI has ever experienced.”

By Alexandria Carolan

NCI has joined a nationwide initiative to increase the number of underrepresented minority faculty at NIH-funded cancer hospitals.

The Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation, or FIRST Initiative, an NIH Common Fund program, will provide 12 awards—four per year, over three years. Highly-resourced and limited-resourced institutions can apply to the program independently, or together.

“In this case, the NCI literally leapt at the opportunity to administer this very important program,” NCI Director Ned Sharpless said in a virtual meeting of the Board of Scientific Advisors and the National Cancer Advisory Board Dec. 1. “This will lead to a national network of large cooperative agreements to academic institutions that are really committed to the development of underrepresented minority faculty.”

A survey conducted by The Cancer Letter and Association of American Cancer Institutes found that the leadership pipeline in oncology is overwhelmingly white and male (The Cancer Letter, Oct. 9, 2020).

Two in nine cancer center directors are non-white, and two in 13 cancer center directors are women. The survey also found that one in four deputy and associate directors are non-white, and two in five deputy and associate directors are women.

“This effort seeks to create cultures of inclusive excellence at NIH-funded institutions by implementing a set of well-integrated evidence-based strategies and evaluating their impact on pre-specified metrics of institutional culture, inclusion and diversity,” Sharpless said of the FIRST Initiative. “I think it’s flexible in how the different institutions might envision really doing this sort … Continue reading Sharpless: “This is one of the most uncertain budget environments that I think the NCI has ever experienced.”

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