The Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation (BMSF), together with its partners, National Medical Fellowships (NMF) and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), today announced the first group of 52 physicians selected for its Diversity in Clinical Trials Career Development Program (BMSF DCTCDP). The 52 early-stage investigators are the first of 250 community-oriented clinical trialists who will be trained through the program by 2027.
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The 52 physicians selected by an independent selection committee are an accomplished group working at a broad range of healthcare institutions in 22 states across the U.S. The physicians include 34 women and 18 men who represent a diverse cross section of races and ethnicities and bring a widely varied perspective and range of experiences to the program, as well as to their therapeutic focus areas of cancer (hematologic or solid tumors), immunologic disorders and cardiovascular diseases.
“I’m awed by this inaugural group of clinicians, who have demonstrated their passion for and dedication to addressing the disparities in clinical research through community engagement,” said Robert A. Winn, M.D., Director, Massey Cancer Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Chair of the National Advisory Committee of the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation Diversity in Clinical Trials Career Development Program. “And, I’m confident that when they complete this program, these scholars will have the skills not only to conduct high impact clinical trials, but also to work within communities to build trust with at-risk populations, getting past the fear and skepticism that can often exist, to give the underserved better access to this important tool in healthcare research.”
The BMSF DCTCDP was launched as one of a number of different health equity and diversity and inclusion commitments made last year by the Foundation and its donor, Bristol Myers Squibb.
Building on the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation’s legacy of promoting health equity and improving the health outcomes of populations disproportionately affected by serious diseases, the BMSF DCTCDP was launched to address the lack of diversity in clinical trials in the U.S. In fact, evidence shows that nearly 80% of patients taking part in clinical trials are white.1
Through the BMSF DCTCDP, participants will be trained as world-class clinical research scientists with additional knowledge, skills and competencies in effective community outreach and engagement. This new generation of physician investigators will have the potential to transform the clinical research landscape by conducting clinical trials designed with the goal of increasing the diversity of their participants.
A Unique Program Focused on Long-term Outcomes
“The ultimate aim of this program is to improve public health through the development of therapeutics for all populations,” said Michellene Davis, Esq., President and CEO of NMF. “To truly bring about the change we want and need, we must accept the clarion call to eliminate systemic and structural racism that contribute to racial disparities in healthcare. NMF is proud to serve as implementation partner and one of the curriculum partners in this transformative initiative, contributing substantially to its concept, design, development, and management. Community-oriented, equity-minded health professionals are needed more than ever to address the historical causes of mistrust in healthcare systems and increase the engagement and participation of underserved populations.”
The multi-dimensional program is uniquely designed to foster clinical and translational research that is community-informed, designed and conducted. Participants receive training in evidence-based methods of community outreach and engagement. They participate in a multi-level mentorship model with established community-based Principal Investigators and with medical students through a major component of the program called the Clinical Investigator Pipeline Program (CIPP). The CIPP is an intensive summer service-learning externship that exposes promising rising second year medical students who are underrepresented in medicine to the basics of clinical trials and to working in underserved community health settings to provide outreach, education and engagement on clinical trials.
“Many aspects of the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation Diversity in Clinical Trials Career Development Program make it unique,” said Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D., Director of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, National Institutes of Health. “Its focus on helping clinical trialists become experienced in community engagement research methods is key to developing the trust necessary to realize an increase in clinical trial participation by people of color, yet we have not seen this in any other program of this kind. The program is also designed for long-term impact -- engaging both practicing clinical trial physicians and diverse medical students, developing mentoring relationships that will build a pipeline of clinicians that are skilled in clinical trial diversity. All of these elements are rarely found.”
John Damonti, president, Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, said that the response to the BMSF DCTCDP has been overwhelming. “The number of applicants exceeded our expectations, as did the stellar credentials of the physicians who applied. In fact, we expanded the cohort to include as many of these exceptional candidates as possible.” He added that the BMSF DCTCDP is a significant priority for the Foundation, which has been working for decades to improve health equity in the United States and around the world. “I could not be more pleased that we are realizing our vision for this program.”
“We are thrilled to contribute in a major way to this extraordinary program,” said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), Chief Executive Officer of the AACR. “This educational workshop will provide these early-career physicians with the remarkable opportunity to interact with and be mentored by leading clinical investigators, as well as leading biostatisticians and community engagement experts to learn the principles of excellent clinical trial design, and to develop the skill sets needed for building community networks. This program, along with the long-term mentorship offered to the participants, will prepare them to become independent clinical trialists and have the overarching benefit of advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
The first cohort of scholars will begin their two-year participation in October 2021 with a program orientation, followed in early November by a six-day intensive educational workshop on clinical research, called BMSF-AACR Design and Implementation of Clinical Trials Workshop.
Applications for Future Participants – Cohort II Physicians and Cohort I Medical Students
Letters of intent are being accepted now through January 14, 2022 for the second cohort of clinical trial physicians. For medical students, the application period for the CIPP will open on November 15, 2021, and close on January 28, 2022. Interested applicants can learn more and apply by visiting the program website at www.diversityinclinicaltrials.org.
About the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation
The Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, an independent charitable organization, focuses on communities most at risk of suffering the impacts of serious diseases in regions of the world that are hardest hit. It empowers partners to develop and test innovative solutions to advance health equity and improve access to quality healthcare for patients. Grant making focuses on cancer, cardiovascular disease, and immunologic disease, as well as clinical trial diversity in the United States, and prevalent cancers in nine African countries, Brazil and China. The mission of the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation is to promote health equity and improve the health outcomes of populations disproportionately affected by serious diseases by strengthening healthcare worker capacity, integrating medical care and community-based supportive services and mobilizing communities in the fight against disease. For more information, visit Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation (bms.com).
About National Medical Fellowships
Seeking to empower and support aspiring physicians and health professionals underrepresented in medicine to contribute to the health of our nation, National Medical Fellowships’ mission is to provide scholarships and support for students underrepresented in medicine and the health professions.
Founded in 1946, NMF is one of America’s first diversity organizations. Today, as the only national organization solely dedicated to providing scholarships to medical and health professions students in all groups underrepresented in healthcare, NMF is reducing healthcare disparities by creating new generations of clinicians and healthcare leaders who are dedicated to realizing health equity.
NMF is supported by a national network of more than 32,000 Alumni who serve tens of millions of patients annually. Together we continue to move health equity forward as we build the next generation of diverse healthcare leaders.
About the American Association for Cancer Research
Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world’s first and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR membership includes 49,000 laboratory, translational, and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and patient advocates residing in 128 countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer by annually convening more than 30 conferences and educational workshops—the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting, with more than 74,000 attendees for the 2020 virtual meetings and more than 22,500 attendees for past in-person meetings. In addition, the AACR publishes nine prestigious, peer-reviewed scientific journals and a magazine for cancer survivors, patients, and their caregivers. The AACR funds meritorious research directly as well as in cooperation with numerous cancer organizations. As the Scientific Partner of Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR provides expert peer review, grants administration, and scientific oversight of team science and individual investigator grants in cancer research that have the potential for near-term patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and other policymakers about the value of cancer research and related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer. For more information about the AACR, visit www.AACR.org.
About Bristol Myers Squibb Company
Bristol Myers Squibb is a global biopharmaceutical company whose mission is to discover, develop, and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases. For more information about Bristol Myers Squibb, visit us at BMS.com or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.