By Gita Suneja, MD, MS, and Malika Siker, MD
As the field of radiation oncology continues to make tremendous biomedical advancements in patient care, we know that these breakthroughs are not reaching all patients equally. We are aware of the outstanding research documenting the disparities that exist in the field, both in terms of patient care and the composition of our work force. It is critical that we focus on improving health equity to devise new and innovative solutions to bring change to the field. To this end, the ROI has issued a new request for proposals (RFP), “Improving Diversity and Inclusion in Radiation Oncology,” to award research grants focused on developing and testing practical applications that will help change the current state of affairs for radiation oncology professionals and their patients.
This new funding opportunity from the ROI will support innovative ideas to:
- Reduce disparities in patient care.
- Increase participation of underrepresented groups in clinical trials.
- Improve diversity in the radiation oncology workforce.
The proposed research must also focus on one or more of the topics that make up the ROI’s research agenda: communication, quality and safety, toxicity management, comparative effectiveness and value of radiation therapy. The grants typically will be approximately $50,000 to be paid over two years, but budgets of up to $100,000 will be considered for projects with a large scope of work. We encourage all interested, eligible applicants to submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) by 5:00 p.m. Eastern time, October 28, 2019, on the ROI portal on proposalCENTRAL. Full proposals will be due at the end of January for invited applicants only.
The ROI and ASTRO’s Committee on Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (CHEDI) are excited to be partnering on this new grant opportunity to ensure that the ROI is supporting the highest priority research that will address some of the most pressing challenges to improve equity, diversity and inclusion in radiation oncology. Our collaboration began with the development of the RFP and will continue through the review of the LOIs and proposals, when members of CHEDI will serve as guest reviewers. We are hoping to see many proposals for groundbreaking initiatives to improve recruitment and inclusion of underrepresented minorities into cancer clinical trials, one of CHEDI’s top priorities for the year, in response to this RFP.
We are proud to support this new funding opportunity that could help transform the field. We invite all members of the radiation oncology community to review the complete RFP and propose your best ideas for how to improve health equity and ensure that all patients have access to the lifesaving and quality-of-life benefits of radiation therapy.
Gita Suneja, MD, MS, is chair of the ROI Research Committee and vice-chair of CHEDI, and Malika Siker, MD, is chair of CHEDI, a member of the ROI Development Committee and chair of its Communications Subcommittee.