Monday, September 28, 2020

Cancer Projects that Focus on Creating Diversity in Genetic Research Received New Grants

                             Picture from NYT article, "Cancer Projects to Diversify Genetic Research Receive new grants"

Cancer research has been developing and advancing for years. Currently with the COVID-19 pandemic, it has shown a new side of medical research that isn't always seen. In the data with COVID-19 and many genetic projects, there has been a disproportionately higher number of caucasian people who have been involved in research projects as opposed to people of color. This poses a huge issue looking into diseases and cancers in a population as a whole. This article, "Cancer Projects to Diversify Genetic Research Receive new grants", discusses 6 projects that have received grants to diversify genetics in cancer research in order to not only understand how the disease affects different people but also to obtain the ability to combat the diseases on a large scale. One Dr. said to New York Times, "We think there are underlying molecular and cellular differences that impact the incidence as well as its treatment". 

    The article goes on to explain how in order to increase this genetic diversity in research, a trust has to be build between the medical community and people of color. Doctors believe that there is not only a drastic increase of the risk of different cancers, but there may even be a genetic risk that is not being picked up due to them not being represented in trial data or having a large enough data pool to use. It goes on to say a harsh statistic: "Black Americans have the highest death rate of any racial group for most cancers; some 73,000 African-Americans die of cancer each year". This data is critical and diversity in genetic research to include diverse ethnicities is crucial to understand that diseases may effect everyone differently on a cellular and genetic level. One project that is receiving the grant is called "Polyethnic-1000" which is working on "closing the knowledge gap that exists largely because decades of genetic studies focused mainly on white patient populations". 

    It is crucial to have diversity when observing genetics and their role in growing diseases and cancers and I believe that every field in science whether it is research patients or the researchers themselves need more diversity and open up the diversity in studies and research techniques. The statistics presented in this article as well as seeing research and studies in groups of people during the COVID-19 pandemic shed a light that the community needs to work on creating a diverse genetic and research platform. 

Helpful links: Polyethnic-1000, Cancer statistics, and NYT article

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