Activities (DEA) and OSPR have funded the majority of these graduate, postgraduate, and collegiate fellowships and scholarships to encourage minority students to pursue careers in oncology research. In addition, funds are allocated to increase mentoring and training opportunities at minority-serving institutions.

Eligibility for minority training funds is typically restricted to U.S. citizens or resident aliens and to members of ethnic or racial groups determined by the granting institution to be underrepresented in biomedical or behavioral research. For minority research supplements, this definition includes African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Pacific Islanders but excludes many Asian-American groups. Furthermore, NIH gives priority to projects involving African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Pacific Islanders. The exclusion of Asian-American groups from these programs appears to reflect NCI's belief that Asian-American scientists are well represented within the cancer research field. Asian-American researchers, however, are underrepresented in behavioral and population sciences, highlighting the dangers of assessing the representativeness of populations in research on the basis of aggregated data across all cancer fields. NCI did not cite an empirical basis for the policy of exclusion of Asian Americans from training programs.

Dissemination of information regarding training programs appears to occur largely through government publications, such as the NIH Guide. Announcements about the minority research supplement grants, for example, are provided to principal investigators via the guide. Dissemination also occurs through the efforts of program staff attending professional conferences and meetings (e.g., the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research [AACR]). Beyond these efforts, NCI did not provide evidence of any formal or systematic information dissemination or outreach plan regarding training opportunities for minorities.

NCI Programs for Underrepresented Minorities

Minority training and enrichment programs include the following:

  • Science Enrichment Program. The Science Enrichment Program (SEP) is a 4- to 6-week summer residential science education program to encourage promising high school students to pursue professional careers in scientific research. SEP is open to youth from underrepresented minority and underserved groups, as well as those from areas where science education opportunities are limited. Three universities (the University of Kentucky at Lexington, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and the University of Southern California) now participate in the program. Approximately 150 youth participate in the program, which received funding of slightly more than $1 million in FY 1997.

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