DEI at the Annual Meeting

ASTRO is working to expand its initiatives and education about diversity, health equity and inclusion in health care. This track is dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and appears in educational sessions as well as the science program in order to provide a well-rounded Annual Meeting experience while expanding professionals' social awareness on DEI within radiation oncology. See below for the DEI sessions and Oral Abstracts available to registrants of the 2023 ASTRO Annual Meeting.

Educational Sessions on DEI

Master Class: Safety is No Accident - Building Inclusive Cultures

Saturday, September 30, 2023 | 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Location: San Diego Convention Center

Considerations of safety are vitally important and permeate every aspect of radiation oncology practice. With increasing complexity and technological advances, cultivating a culture of safety has been elevated as a major goal. Indeed since 2012 and with each successive edition of the publication "Safety is No Accident," there is recognition that “new unexpected challenges to quality and safety” arise that require the "continual reassessment of usual ways of doing things with focus on activities that add value."

Following on the benefits achieved by intentional strategic focus on patient quality and safety, we have designed the 2023 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Master Class to expand our focus of safety beyond patient safety to safety concerns of radiation providers to optimize the protections of human capital. We provide renewed perspectives on creating psychologically safe spaces, building inclusive cultures and supporting effective teams. During this session, we will explore 1) what it means to make the shift from unconscious bias to conscious considerations to promote inclusivity, 2) how to define a full concept of safety for human capital, and 3) the systems required to provide individuals with a voice/platform to address issues related to safety, including but not limited to issues of safety for historically marginalized groups based on race and/or ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Moderator: Iris Gibbs, MD, FASTRO, Stanford University School of Medicine

Speaker: Maryam Jernigan-Noesi, PhD, Jernigan and Associates Inc.

Storytelling: Delivering Equitable and Sustainable Oncologic Care in a Changing Environment – Identifying Opportunities to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Monday, October 2, 2023 | 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
Location: San Diego Convention Center

Climate change is a major threat to human health, with disproportionate impacts on marginalized and vulnerable communities. These impacts range from increased exposure to carcinogens to disruptions in health care systems during climate-related disasters. Marginalized communities, such as Black and Latinx populations, are particularly vulnerable to the health impacts of climate change due to structural injustices and discriminatory policies.

Despite being on the frontlines of the crisis, health care contributes ~10% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, with a significant portion attributed to hospital and outpatient care. Given this urgent and growing threat, significant opportunity exists to keep radiation oncologists informed and collectively build climate resiliency within practice and communities.

In this session, attendees will be challenged to: Rethink – understand how climate change impacts the health of patients, especially those from communities targeted for marginalization, as well as the intersection between climate change, access to care, health, equity and inclusivity; Reduce – learn strategies aimed at reducing the environmental impact of oncology care and the harms and burdens associated with climate change and climate-driven disasters; Reuse/Recycle – develop actionable steps to reduce the environmental impact of clinical practice within oncology departments, institutions and health systems; and Discuss – how lessons learned from resilience/adaptation efforts to other disasters (e.g., the COVID-19 pandemic) can be used in adaptation and mitigation efforts aimed at addressing climate change. Following discussions by our panelists, a Q&A period will be dedicated to answer regionally specific questions that attendees may have related to climate and health.


Kekoa Taparra, MD, PhD, Stanford Cancer Institute
Michael LeCompte, MD, MS, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine


  • Gaurab Basu, MD, MPH, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Leticia Nogueira, PhD, MPH, American Cancer Society
  • Hiram Gay, MD, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
  • Katie Lichter, MD, MPH, University of California

ASTRO/NRG Joint Session - Far Beyond “Thoughts and Prayers”: Crafting an Interdisciplinary DEI Action Toolkit to Enhance Basic to Clinical Cancer Research

Monday, October 2, 2023 | 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Location: San Diego Convention Center

ASTRO has recently pioneered many initiatives towards bolstering health equity, diversity and inclusion (HEDI) in each of its domains. These have the ultimate goals of ensuring that the radiation oncology community is at the forefront of enhancing oncology workplace diversity while helping to ensure equitable patient access to cutting edge health care and cancer research. These efforts in turn present opportunities to enhance radiation- and cancer research, from bench and translational research to clinical trials. Discussions will also include the evolving roles of residents and social media in helping drive this change. This first-of-its-kind panel aims to tackle these issues in a practical, comprehensive and lasting way.

The speakers, with experiences enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) from the clinic frontlines to highest echelons, will articulate respective specific experiences, primary data and initiatives and how these will benefit the research enterprise. Each presenter will provide information that is evidence-based, timely and geared toward immediate impact. A peer-reviewed whitepaper will follow from the discussions and presentations of the panel. These together will craft an interdisciplinary “prescription” for other cancer-focused organizations to follow in ASTRO’s footsteps in enhancing DEI, providing invaluable ideas for research individuals and institutions to adopt toward strengthening their respective basic, translational and clinical research.


Chika Madu, MD, Northwell Health Cancer Institute
Gary Kao, MD, PhD, University of Pennsylvania


  • Curtiland Deville Jr., MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Neha Vapiwala, MD, FASTRO, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Karen Winkfield, MD, PhD, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • Iris Gibbs, MD, FASTRO, Stanford University School of Medicine

Storytelling: When Can I Speak? Expert Perspectives on Managing Experiences with Workplace Discrimination

Tuesday, October 3, 2023 | 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
Location: San Diego Convention Center

Discrimination and bias are increasingly recognized as pervasive problems throughout medicine leading to fewer opportunities for promotion and professional advancement of women and minorities. Relative to many medical specialties, radiation oncology has a disproportionately low number of women and minorities in senior faculty rank and leadership positions in academic and community practice. This storytelling session will highlight experiences with discrimination and bias and illustrate how experiences are similar or different based on intersectional identities and institutional cultures. Panelists will share options and strategies for managing difficult experiences with discrimination. The session will illustrate benefits and limitations of organizational and institutional structures in addressing discrimination and bias in the workplace.

Moderator: Mylin Torres, MD, Emory University


  • Nancy Tarbell, MD, FASTRO, Harvard Medical School
  • Maryam Jernigan-Noesi, PhD, Jernigan and Associates Inc.
  • Malika Siker, MD, Medical College of Wisconsin
  • Carlton Green, PhD, Independent Consultant
  • Laura Cervino, PhD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Storytelling: Navigating Uncomfortable Situations - Small Changes for Big Impact in Health Care Equity for LGBTQ2SIA+ Populations

Tuesday, October 3, 2023 | 2:45 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.
Location: San Diego Convention Center

This session will start with a brief overview of best practice techniques for establishing and maintaining work and treatment environments that are welcoming, safe and inclusive for LGBTQ2SIA+ patients. Participants will then be randomly assigned to a small group where they will be presented with a realistic "surprise" scenario designed around an LGBTQ2SIA+ patient interaction. To allow sufficient practice, each attendee will have the chance to workshop their communications and interactions in three different scenarios (15 minutes allowed per scenario). Proposed scenarios are patient intake, care for a transgender patient, and collection of SOGI data when there is resistance. Each group will have a moderator with expertise and knowledge in LGBTQ2SIA+ population needs. All participants will have the opportunity to practice the communication strategies in a safe space where "mistakes" can be made without repercussion. There will be a wrap-up at the end where learning objectives will be summarized for each of the scenarios and where recommendations for best practices will be discussed.

Moderator: K. Sunshine Osterman, PhD, NYU Langone Health


  • Toni Roth, MS, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • Jason Domogauer, MD, PhD, NYU Langone Health
  • K. Sunshine Osterman, PhD, NYU Langone Health

ASTRO/ADROP Joint Session - Employing Equity in Residency Recruitment and Cultivating a Culture of Inclusion

Tuesday, October 3, 2023 | 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Location: San Diego Convention Center

Radiation oncology has lagged behind many other specialties when it comes to diversity. The purpose of this session is to discuss equity in the residency recruitment experience and therefore the workforce, from navigating interactions during selection, holistic reviews and residency interviews and day to day interactions with patients and colleagues. From a recruitment perspective, we will discuss holistic candidate review and structured interviewing. Holistic reviews incorporate a highly individualized review of each applicant, giving serious consideration in ways that an individual can contribute to a diverse educational setting. With regards to navigating difficult conversations, we will discuss how to address microaggressions, support our underrepresented in medicine (URiM) colleagues and residency, and navigating hierarchy. This session will provide guidance on promoting workforce equity to allow for improved cultural competence. Addressing diversity is critical to improving our field and warrants thorough discussion. We hope that this session will help provide an open forum for diversity, equity and inclusion in radiation oncology residencies.

Moderator: Parul Barry, MD, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center


  • Meriem Mokhtech, MD, Yale School of Medicine
  • Rachel Jimenez, MD, Harvard Medical School
  • Dakim Gaines, MD, PhD, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • Idalid Franco, MD, MPH, Harvard Medical School

Sexual Health Considerations for Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) and Non-SGM Patients with a Cancer Diagnosis

Wednesday, October 4, 2023 | 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
Location: San Diego Convention Center

The goal of this Education Session is to offer radiation oncology professionals an introduction to the sexual health needs of cancer patients, with inclusion of the unique needs of Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) patients and to provide a framework for open and respectful communication about the sexual sequelae of cancer treatment(s). Sexual health experts in radiation oncology and related fields will discuss cancer treatment considerations, particularly radiation therapy affecting SGM and non-SGM patients, including the effects of prostate radiation on receptive and insertive anal intercourse for gay/bisexual men, as well as men who have sex with men (MSM), and transfeminine people, and the effects of pelvic radiation on the vagina and clitoris in women and transmasculine people. Contouring and dose constraint considerations for organs of sexual function including the bulboclitoris will be presented. Participants will learn respectful terminology for sexual practices and roles, discuss the importance of gender neutral language for transgender patients with gender incongruence and explore the intersectionality of race, gender and sexuality. Approaches to reclaiming sexual intimacy after treatment and managing sexual health in cancer survivors will be discussed by leading field experts.

Moderator:  Jason Daomogauer, MD, PhD, NYU Langone Health


  • Alicia Smart, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Deborah Marshall, MD, MAS, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • Channa Amarasekera, MD, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University
  • Lee Phillips, EdD, MSW, LICSW, LCSW-C, LCSW, CSAC, CST, CSCT, Integrative Sex Therapy Institute

Science Program on DEI

Oral Abstracts on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion in Health Care (DEIH)

Below is the oral abstract on DEIH that will be featured at the 2023 ASTRO Annual Meeting.

Scientific Session 05 - Taking Action to Advance Health Equity in Radiation Oncology
Sunday, October 1, 2023 | 4:45 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Location: San Diego Convention Center

American Society for Radiation Oncology
251 18th Street South, 8th Floor
Arlington, VA 22202
Telephone: 703-502-1550


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