Consortium Unveils Grants to Promote Diversity in Cancer Research

Warren A. Whyte, PhD, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Customer Success, ConcertAI

Hoping to spark additional clinical research geared toward minority populations in the battle against cancer, ConcertAI is seeking grant applications as part of its ERACE Research Award to support promising cancer researchers with funding and access to the ERACE cancer registry.

“We hope to help advance the careers of early-stage investigators with a passion for cancer research in minority communities,” said Warren A. Whyte, PhD, vice president of strategic partnerships and customer success at ConcertAI. They anticipate three $50,000 individual grants in 2021, with plans to expand the program in future years, Whyte said. “We hope to encourage redesign of clinical trials to make them more inclusive,” he added.

The award focuses on examinations of potential differences in cancer treatment patterns, outcomes, clinical practice, genomics, safety, and other cancer-related measures among populations with existing disparities, particularly those that exist among underrepresented groups, which could inform strategies to eliminate racial health disparities. Clinical research or projects evaluating the comparative effectiveness of therapies or diagnostic agents will not be considered. Letters of Intent are due by January 15, 2021, 11:59 PM (ET).

In September, ConcertAI launched a new initiative, “Engaging Research to Achieve Cancer Care Equality (ERACE),” to advance an understanding of, and help eliminate the unequal burden of, cancer faced by minority groups in the United States. Central to ERACE is the creation of a population-based cancer registry based on race and ethnicity. This registry will be the most comprehensive cancer registry in the United States to ensure equitable outcomes, especially for Black Americans who have been impacted most by healthcare disparities, ConcertAI said. ERACE will be directed by professionals from academic, pharmaceutical, and healthcare organizations to foster new research and exchange ideas.

“Recent crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic have brought to national attention the dire consequences of persistent racial inequities” said Whyte, who led the creation of ERACE. “But it’s about more than just understanding these inequities. It’s about taking meaningful action to address them. With ERACE, we have the ability to apply our breadth of resources, tools, and partnerships toward achieving cancer health equity and making a meaningful difference in the lives of all patients.”

“I believe that healthcare is a fundamental right and a foundation for a productive and equitable society,” said Otis Brawley, MD, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Oncology and Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University and ERACE Leadership Advisory Board Member. “Disparities exist when individuals cannot access basic sets of services—like education, healthy foods, or [healthcare]—at the national standard. I am pleased to partner with ConcertAI and ERACE to reframe the questions of equity and advance actionable insights that will accelerate the prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer in the United States.”

Edited by Michael Causey