serve on NCI's advisory committees and other groups comparable to that established for consumers through DCLG currently exists. NCI's senior management turns to seven different advisory groups for advice and counsel: (1) the President's Cancer Panel, (2) the National Cancer Advisory Board, (3) the Board of Scientific Counselors, (4) the Board of Scientific Advisors, (5) the Intramural Advisory Board, (6) the Extramural Advisory Board, and (7) the DCLG. Currently, 19 percent (21 of 113) of the people serving on these groups are members of minority groups—9 Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, 7 African Americans, 4 Hispanics, and 1 American Indian/Alaska Native—whereas that proportion was 14 percent (19 of 134) in 1992. There is wide variability, however, in ethnic minority representation among the various advisory groups. More than one-third (35 percent) of the National Cancer Advisory Board members (6 of 17) were ethnic minorities as of December 1997, yet among NCI's two most powerful advisory bodies, the Board of Scientific Advisors and the Board of Scientific Counselors, only 11 percent (3 of 26) and 17 percent (7 of 42) are ethnic minorities, respectively. NCI reports that consumers are represented on the majority of NCI advisory panels, but the numbers of these individuals on each panel were not specified.
It therefore appears that significant representation on advisory panels by members of ethnic minorities takes place primarily when NCI embraces a conscious plan for diversity: witness the original intent of the Planning Group for DCLG to have one third of its 15 members be ethnic minorities and the final makeup of the group, which includes representatives from five different minority groups.
Concern regarding ethnic minority representation on NCI advisory panels was also salient in the input to the committee from ethnic minority researchers in the field of cancer research, as well as from minority and nonminority investigators interested in cancer among minority and medically underserved populations. As indicated above, opinions about the ways of increasing the level of representation included (1) increased participation by researchers from minority and medically underserved communities in goal setting and identification of priority areas pertaining to minorities, (2) appointment of more minority investigators and administrators to key advisory committees and review committees or study sections, and (3) development of an advisory board to address the research needs of minority and medically underserved communities. Thus, a comparable strategy for widening the pool of minority investigators (and administrators) who serve on policy-making and priority-setting groups within NCI, as has been developed for consumers through DCLG, is an apparent need.
Recommendation 4-1: NCI should develop a process to increase the representation of ethnically diverse researchers and public representatives