PRINCETON, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation (BMS Foundation), together with Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), Gilead Sciences, Inc., and Amgen today announced that an additional 65 physicians have been selected to receive the Robert A. Winn Diversity in Clinical Trials Career Development Award (Winn CDA). The broader Robert A. Winn Diversity in Clinical Trials Award Program (Winn Award Program) aims to train, develop and mentor more than 308 clinical trialists and 308 medical students by 2027 who are diverse or who have a demonstrated commitment to clinical trial diversity.
The third cohort of physicians joins the 114 early-stage investigator physicians who have so far been trained in the Winn CDA, one of four awards offered by the Robert A. Winn Diversity in Clinical Trials Award Program.
“Many of our most impactful medical advances are predicated on clinical trials,” said Robert A. Winn, M.D., director and Lipman Chair in Oncology, VCU Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center and chair of the Winn Award Program National Advisory Committee. “It is our duty as physicians to treat clinical trials as the critical tool they are, and ensure they represent the diverse communities and backgrounds of our patients. Without that representation at the forefront, we are failing the very people we are seeking to serve. By training the next generation of clinical trialists with these commitments, we are moving one step closer to making sure all people can benefit from medical innovation.”
The Winn Award Program was created in 2020 with a $100 million pledge by the BMS Foundation as part of its commitment to health equity, and to address the longstanding lack of diversity in clinical trials. Close to 80% of participants in historical clinical research trials are white, according to the Food and Drug Administration, hindering the ability to eliminate health disparities and ensure medicines are safe and effective for all patients. The program is named in honor of Dr. Winn.
The 65 physicians selected by an independent national review committee represent healthcare institutions in 20 states across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. These Winn CDA Scholars -- 40 women and 25 men -- represent a diverse cross-section of races, ethnicities and geographic locations. They are each committed to increasing diversity in clinical trials, and bring a widely varied perspective to the program, practicing in the therapeutic areas of cancer (hematologic or solid tumors), immunologic disorders and cardiovascular diseases.
“The Winn Award Program remains a beacon of the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation’s commitment to health equity and more inclusive and diverse clinical trials,” said John Damonti, president, Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation. “We know that increasing diversity in clinical trials is a long-term investment, reliant on deep, meaningful engagement at the community level. We are excited and honored to introduce the third cohort of Winn CDA Scholars to the Winn Award Program and look forward to continuing to collaborate with these physicians and our partners in the movement for more inclusive and diverse clinical trial representation.”
“AACR has been a stalwart supporter of diversity in the oncology workforce and is committed to addressing the roots of cancer health disparities and advancing equitable cancer research,” said Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (hc), chief executive officer, AACR. “We are thrilled to see the Winn Award Program continue to train a diverse group of physicians so that future clinical trials will ensure progress in cancer prevention, early detection and treatment for the benefit of all patients.”
A collaborative effort to increase diversity in clinical trials
The BMS Foundation selected AACR as a curriculum partner to develop the Winn-AACR Design and Implementation of Clinical Trials Workshop, which is the first training the Winn CDA Scholars receive. VCU serves as the program implementation partner under the direction of Dr. Winn. Gilead Sciences is a program funding partner, committing $14 million to sponsor a total of 40 Winn CDA scholars and 40 Winn Clinical Investigator Pathway Program (CIPP) award recipients through 2027. Amgen joined as an additional funding partner in January 2023, committing to contribute $8 million over the next four years, allowing the program to reach an additional 18 clinical investigators and 18 medical students who are diverse or who have a demonstrated commitment to clinical trial diversity by 2027.
“We are proud of our ongoing collaboration and support for the Winn Award Program,” said Merdad Parsey, M.D., Ph.D., chief medical officer, Gilead Sciences. “Gilead is deeply committed to health equity, inclusion and representation, and with this third cohort of physicians, we are looking forward to continuing to increase awareness, education, and investment in diverse clinical trials.”
“As the newest partner of the Winn Award Program, we are honored to participate in a program that trains and mentors diverse and community-oriented clinical trialist and medical students. These physicians will make a difference in our communities by recruiting and retaining diverse people for clinical trials, in an effort to improve health equity,” said Jude Ngang, executive director, and leader of the Amgen Representation in Clinical Research (RISE) program. “Increasing diversity in clinical trials is a necessary endeavor to improve the health of all people, and Amgen stands behind this program.”
The Winn Award Program currently offers four awards: the Winn CDA, a two-year program designed to support diverse early-stage investigator (ESI) physicians or those who have demonstrated commitment to increasing diversity in clinical trial research within their local communities; the Winn CIPP, a six-week summer externship during which diverse medical students or medical students who have a demonstrated commitment to clinical trial diversity are provided an immersive experience in community-based clinical research; and two Winn Clinical Investigator Leadership Awards (Winn CILA) - one in oncology and another in cardiovascular disease, which will launch in early 2024. The Winn CILA awards are for alumni of the Winn CDA. The CILA is a three-year career and leadership development program designed to provide clinical researchers with advanced clinical trials knowledge, leadership skills, and mentorship. It is implemented by collaborating organizations, Conquer Cancer, the ASCO Foundation; and the American Heart Association. The Winn Award Program encourages others in the healthcare industry to consider participating as faculty and/or sponsors. Interested parties can learn more about the program at diversityinclinicaltrials.org and contact the team at email@example.com.
About the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation
The Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, an independent charitable organization, aims to advance health equity for underserved communities. For nearly a quarter of a century, it has fearlessly ventured to help those burdened by serious diseases, from the African continent to China and across the Americas. The Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation embraces innovative approaches that have the potential to reshape the health care system, forging alliances with government, nonprofit, academic and private sectors to ignite new possibilities in achieving health equity. In its therapeutic areas of focus, and in cross-cutting disciplines like diversity in clinical trials, the BMS Foundation is challenging norms to create more equitable and sustainable systems of healthcare delivery — and ultimately, meaningful change in the communities it serves.
For more information, visit Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation (bms.com).
About VCU and VCU Health
Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls nearly 29,000 students in 238 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Twenty-three of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 11 schools and three colleges. For more, please visit vcu.edu and vcuhealth.org.
About the American Association for Cancer Research
Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world’s first and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR membership includes more than 54,000 laboratory, translational, and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and patient advocates residing in 131 countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer by annually convening more than 30 conferences and educational workshops, the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting. In addition, the AACR publishes 10 prestigious, peer-reviewed scientific journals and a magazine for cancer survivors, patients, and their caregivers. The AACR funds meritorious research directly as well as in cooperation with numerous cancer organizations. As the Scientific Partner of Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR provides expert peer review, grants administration, and scientific oversight of team science and individual investigator grants in cancer research that have the potential for near-term patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and other policymakers about the value of cancer research and related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer. For more information about the AACR, visit www.AACR.org.
About Gilead Sciences, Inc.
Gilead Sciences, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company that has pursued and achieved breakthroughs in medicine for more than three decades, with the goal of creating a healthier world for all people. The company is committed to advancing innovative medicines to prevent and treat life-threatening diseases, including HIV, viral hepatitis and cancer. Gilead operates in more than 35 countries worldwide, with headquarters in Foster City, California.
Amgen is committed to unlocking the potential of biology for patients suffering from serious illnesses by discovering, developing, manufacturing and delivering innovative human therapeutics. This approach begins by using tools like advanced human genetics to unravel the complexities of disease and understand the fundamentals of human biology.
Amgen focuses on areas of high unmet medical need and leverages its expertise to strive for solutions that improve health outcomes and dramatically improve people's lives. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen has grown to be one of the world's leading independent biotechnology companies, has reached millions of patients around the world and is developing a pipeline of medicines with breakaway potential.
Amgen is one of the 30 companies that comprise the Dow Jones Industrial Average and is also part of the Nasdaq-100 index. In 2023, Amgen was named one of "America's Greatest Workplaces" by Newsweek and one of "America's Climate Leaders" by USA Today.