Stand Up To Cancer® (SU2C) recently awarded seven community organizations with grants to fund efforts to increase diversity in early phase cancer clinical trials. The community engagement grants support SU2C’s focus on addressing disparities in oncology clinical trial participation and facilitating the development of new treatments that have the potential to benefit all patients impacted by cancer. The recipients of these grants operate in four cities – Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and Philadelphia – and are deeply connected to communities that are underrepresented in cancer clinical trials.
The community engagement grant recipients will collaborate with four new research teams that are part of the recently announced SU2C Diversity In Early Development Clinical Trials Program, supported by a sponsorship from the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. The research teams are working to create new approaches to engage medically underserved communities in Phase 1 and Phase 2 cancer clinical trials. Community engagement grantees will complement the teams’ work by helping to increase awareness and education within the teams’ focus regions.
“Increasing diverse involvement in cancer therapy development is a critical goal for Stand Up To Cancer and these community collaborators will help us engage with key groups that are experiencing challenges associated with accessing cancer clinical trials,” said Julian Adams, Ph.D., SU2C’s chief science officer. “We strongly feel that by making these important connections between our research teams and organizations embedded in, and trusted by, the key communities we hope to reach, we can amplify our research and begin to meaningfully address cancer disparities.”
Each community engagement grant recipient received a two-year grant. The grantees are:
- Equal Hope – Equal Hope strives to save lives by eliminating health inequities. By understanding the context of people’s lives as well as identifying and addressing the barriers they experience, Equal Hope works holistically to help individuals achieve their best health and live a longer life. Through research, quality assessment and improvements, advocacy, education and patient navigation, Equal Hope strives to achieve sustainable outcomes and true health equity.
- Ingalls Development Foundation – Ingalls Development Foundation provides philanthropic support to UChicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial Hospital to ensure equitable care in Chicago’s Southland community, from cancer research, clinical trials and emergency services to nutrition stations, physical therapy and behavioral health.
- Cancer Support Community North Texas – Cancer Support Community North Texas uplifts and strengthens people impacted by cancer by providing support, fostering compassionate communities, and breaking down barriers to care. They provide personalized mental health support, including support groups, individual counseling, healthy lifestyle activities, social events, resources, and children’s programs.
- Feonix – Mobility Rising – Feonix’s vision is to provide mobility solutions for the health and wellbeing of every person in every community. Feonix reduces transportation insecurity by deploying advanced technology, advocating for resources, and building robust community partnerships.
- Triage Cancer – Triage Cancer provides free education on the legal and practical issues that may impact individuals diagnosed with cancer and their caregivers, through events, materials, and resources, including a Legal & Financial Navigation Program. The education provided helps people avoid financial toxicity and ensures access to quality care.
- Praise Is The Cure – Praise Is The Cure’s programs uplift patients, celebrate survivors, help to promote breast cancer awareness, and aid in research for Black women. Their goal is to help create more survivors and inspire all to continue the fight against breast cancer.
- The Breathing Room Foundation – The Breathing Room Foundation strives to provide a family with holistic support that allows them a bit of “breathing room” from their daily struggle against cancer, including emotional, physical, and financial assistance.
Breathing Room Foundation Executive Director Mary Ellen Fitzgerald shared her excitement for this grant and how it will impact BRF families: “The special relationships we have with Breathing Room families means that we are in constant communication to hear what they need most in their fight against cancer. We are committed to health equity for our recipients and are incredibly honored that Stand Up to Cancer recognizes the strides we are making in providing access to treatment for the Philadelphia region. This partnership will allow us to deepen our connection to our recipients, listen to and address their needs, and continue to move the needle forward in making access to treatment more available for our community.”
According to 2020 data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 73% of cancer clinical trial participants are white, 14% are Asian, 6% are Hispanic and 5% are Black. Disparities in clinical trial participation could cause many Americans from diverse groups to be less likely to benefit from new cancer treatments and the promise of precision medicine. SU2C is committed to cancer health equity and is working to increase diversity in SU2C-funded clinical trials, initiate advocacy group collaborations and awareness campaigns, and fund research aimed at improving cancer outcomes and screening rates in medically underserved communities.