Grand Challenge: Enhancing Accrual of Underserved and Minority Patients to DF/HCC Clinical Trials

April 22, 2020

Application Deadline: June 15, 2020
Program and administrative contact:
Submit applications by email to:
Informational Zoom meeting (open forum) at 4 PM on Thursday, April 28, 2020

Zoom meeting ID: 925 0197 7372 (password 837096) – please don’t distribute on social media

Clinical trials are the cornerstone of new cancer therapies. However, most clinical trials to date have significant under-representation of patients from racial and ethnic minority groups (URMs). As a result, sizable populations of underserved patients lack early access to innovative treatments and it unclear whether the tested therapy has similar efficacy or toxicity across sub-groups. Although there is increasing national awareness that cancer clinical trials should encompass more patient diversity and better represent the U.S. population, this goal has been difficult to achieve. DF/HCC has therefore made it a leading priority. A key element of the Center Strategic Plan is the primary goal to attain clinical trial enrollment proportions that reflect the racial and ethnic composition of the Center’s catchment area: the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

Numerous barriers stand in the way of this aspiration, some known and others unknown, and previous DF/HCC investments in studying or solving the problem have had insufficient impact. The underlying societal, medical, cultural, and economic complexities demand thoughtful study and creative, bold, and novel solutions. The Center will therefore divert its full 2020 budget for Developmental Projects (usually divided between basic, clinical, population, and behavioral sciences) toward a single Grand Challenge award of $250,000. These funds will be awarded to one DF/HCC team that proposes the best combination of the following: 

(a) Critical investigation of socio-cultural barriers to minority enrollment in cancer clinical trials,
(b) Creative, practical, and community-facing solutions to overcome these barriers, and
(c) Achievable milestones in an exemplary disease, clinical trial or minority community.

The overarching goal is to stimulate a new paradigm to frame and solve a longstanding and serious problem: the under-representation of minority populations in research.