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Masonic Cancer Center invited to participate in a ASCO/ACCC diversity-based pilot project  

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) recently announced that the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, was chosen as one of 75 research sites to participate in a pilot project testing a research site self-assessment tool, as well as an implicit bias training program focused on increasing racial and ethnic diversity among clinical trial participants. (American Society of Clinical Oncology, 2021)

 "We learn the most in our research efforts when we include people of all sizes, shapes, ages, colors, backgrounds, likes, and dislikes,” said Mark Juckett, MD, Masonic Cancer Center Clinical Trials Office Medical Director for Cell, Gene, and Immunotherapies. “We are fortunate to live in a state with a rich, diverse, and worldly population, and we are excited to have an opportunity to improve our outreach to all people we serve."

The site self-assessment tool will help M Health Fairview Cancer Care and Masonic Cancer Center clinicians and staff conduct an internal assessment of their policies, procedures, and programs that may affect which patients are screened for and offered a clinical trial, as well as other factors that may affect enrollment and retention. The University of Minnesota will receive recommendations for strategies to improve recruitment of Minnesotans from diverse backgrounds to cancer clinical trials. The virtual, curriculum-based implicit bias training will help research sites recognize and mitigate implicit bias across research and care and learn how implicit biases affect who is offered a clinical trial and who enrolls.

“Our academic health system has committed to the work of becoming an anti-racist organization; this program provides us with some important tools and partners for that journey,” said Brad Bensen, MD, FACP, FAAP, Chief Academic Officer.

The project will officially launch in Fall of 2021. The initiative is a year plus in the making with the goal of establishing evidence-based practical strategies and solutions tailored to Minnesota in order to advance a vision where every cancer patient has the opportunity to participate in research.

“This initiative is not only timely, but also essential,” said Emil Lou, MD, PhD, FACP, Medical Director of the Masonic Cancer Center’s Clinical Trials Office-Solid Tumor Unit. “Disparities in access to and benefit from health care extend across all aspects of medicine, including oncology, and this includes fair access to innovative treatments through clinical trials. Recognizing and taking action to correct implicit bias in ourselves, as individuals and as medical institutions, is an important step toward correcting inequities and ensuring we provide the best care possible to patients from every background, race, and ethnicity. We are very proud to have our Masonic Cancer Center participate in this ASCO/ACCC initiative.” 

The Masonic Cancer Cancer will be represented in the initiative by Dr. Lou, along with Anna C. Nelson, CCRP, and Lucia Reinhardt, PA-C, both of whom will represent the staff during the Implicit Bias Training Pilot Study, which involves the completion of virtual learning modules, attending a Virtual Workshop, and completion of evaluation surveys after participation. 

According to the ASCO/ACCC, “the invited sites represent a diverse mix of small and large research sites at community- and academic-based oncology programs, which will allow ASCO and ACCC to draw actionable conclusions about effectiveness of the tool and training in a variety of research and clinical settings. Each site has been assigned to participate in the site self-assessment tool pilot study, the implicit bias training program pilot study, or both pilot studies.