By Susan Vadaparampil, PhD, MPH
Associate Center Director, Community Outreach, Engagement, & Equity
Diversity and inclusion matter to Moffitt Cancer Center. The Office of Community Outreach, Engagement and Equity (COEE) helps to ensure that the needs of our patients and communities are communicated to Moffitt; and Moffitt meets those needs through outreach, education and research.
With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, diversity and inclusion in clinical trials became a hot topic and renewed focus for many. At Moffitt, increasing the inclusion of populations who are diverse by age, gender, race, and ethnicity in clinical trials is important to make sure advances in cancer treatment benefit the most people.
Increasing minority accrual to clinical trials efforts is being led by newly appointed Physician Director, Dr. Kedar Kirtane, Assistant Member in the Department of Head and Neck Oncology and a Member of the Health Outcomes and Behavior Program, who will also oversee the Reaching and Engaging Special Populations to Expand Clinical Trials (RESPECT) committee. Under Dr. Kirtane's leadership, he will advance Moffitt’s efforts to build trust in communities, address patient and community barriers, and engage community health care providers to increase the enrollment of participants that reflect the communities served by Moffitt.
Moffitt's research can and will become better with the help of patients and caregivers. Since the establishment of the Tampa Bay Community Cancer Network (TBCCN) and the Patient and Family Advisory Council in 2005, Moffitt has worked to build the trust and respect of the community over time. COEE will leverage those partnerships and actively seek minority and underserved community members to participate in the research study lifespan (i.e., generating ideas to sharing results) to address the cancer burden among those populations. Additionally, as a cancer center, we will continue to seek ways to gather patient and caregiver feedback to understand what motivates you and what keeps you from participating in research.
We also welcome and extend the offer to patients and caregivers to become actively involved in workgroups and committees that inform our efforts. We are very interested in patients who can share their own lived experiences of participating in clinical trials or other research at Moffitt.
If you are interested in getting involved and sharing your experiences, please contact the Office of Community Outreach, Engagement and Equity at COEE@Moffitt.org.