Stand Up To Cancer today announced a new $5 million grant from Bristol Myers Squibb to fund research and education efforts aimed at achieving health equity for underserved lung cancer patients, including Black people and people living in rural communities. Despite recent progress in treating lung cancer, the disease remains the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. with particularly high death rates in rural communities and among Black men.
The research efforts funded by the three-year grant will consist of supplemental grants to current Stand Up To Cancer research teams. The supplemental grants will focus on identifying new and innovative diagnostic and treatment methods for lung cancer patients in need. These supplemental grants will be designed to jumpstart pilot projects at the intersection of lung cancers, health disparities and rural healthcare, for instance increasing clinical trial enrollment among historically under-represented groups.
In early 2021, a Stand Up To Cancer Innovation Summit will launch the project, bringing together lung cancer experts with researchers specializing in health equity and access. The competitive grant application and selection process for proposed projects will be overseen by Stand Up To Cancer's Scientific Advisory Committee.
"Despite the remarkable recent progress in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, the disparities in care experienced by underserved patient populations are persistent and acute," said Adam Lenkowsky, general manager and head, U.S., Oncology, Immunology, Cardiovascular, Bristol Myers Squibb. "As a company focused on transforming patients' lives through science, we are dedicated to improving health outcomes for all patients. Our support of Stand Up to Cancer's work to address the burden of lung cancer among diverse and rural communities is another extension of our long-standing commitment to ensuring that every patient has access to quality care."
Since 2014, Bristol Myers Squibb has provided funding for important Stand Up To Cancer research initiatives. Bristol Myers Squibb was the inaugural donor for SU2C Catalyst®, supporting research and clinical trials targeting a wide range of cancers, including non-small cell lung cancer, metastatic melanoma, smoldering multiple myeloma, pediatric hypermutant cancers, pediatric brain tumors and pediatric neuroblastoma. Funding has also supported Convergence Grants, which harness computational science to understand fundamental cancer biology, Innovative Research Grants focused on immuno-oncology, as well as Dream Teams focused on lung cancer.
Stand Up To Cancer's Health Equity Initiative formalizes requirements that will apply to all future teams seeking Stand Up To Cancer funding. The requirements include addressing recruitment and retention of patients from different ethnic groups and underserved communities to improve diverse participation in cancer clinical trials. To improve cancer clinical trial education, outreach and recruitment in underserved communities, Stand Up To Cancer is collaborating with advocacy and community-based organizations such as the Black Women's Health Imperative and Friends of Cancer Research.
Bristol Myers Squibb has long been committed to promoting heath equity and continues to forge collaborations and invest in programs to increase the reach of medical innovation to diverse and heavily burdened populations. An important example of the company's commitment in this area is the work of the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, which for more than 20 years has launched initiatives around the world to improve the health outcomes of those disproportionately affected by serious diseases. This includes initiatives focused on underserved populations in the Southeast United States where the lung cancer burden is the highest, with a tailored focus on innovative models of prevention, detection, and education while helping people with lung cancer access and navigate cancer care and support services. From 2014-2019, the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation committed $35 million to expand the scope of community-based resources and cancer survivorship support programs to underserved populations in the U.S.