We live in tumultuous times in this country. The murders of Black people at the hands of law enforcement, the violent reaction of authorities to the ensuing peaceful protests, the disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on communities of color, and the racist rhetoric from some of our political leadership -- all serve as potent reminders that we have much work yet to do to achieve social justice in our country.
On the other hand, these events have sparked very useful, and long overdue, discussions about racism in society more generally, including in science.
Cancer Biology unequivocally condemns racism in all of its forms, and affirms our firm commitment to maintaining a safe, respectful, and inclusive environment for all of our trainees, staff, and faculty. Moreover, we affirm our commitment to recruiting and retaining a diverse and dynamic group of trainees, and to help to inspire and recruit a more diverse next generation of cancer biologists.
Members of our program participate in underrepresented minority (URM)-focused scientific conferences, such as those sponsored by ABRCMS and SACNAS. Moreover, many of our trainees participate, and have assumed leadership roles, in the many organizations at the University of Michigan focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in science, science education, community service, and related matters: https://ogps.med.umich.edu/resources/student-groups/
In 2020-21, Cancer Biology student Daniel Salas-Escabillas serves as President of the Association of Multicultural Scientists (AMS) after being elected as Outreach and Diversity Chair the year before. Katelyn Donahue serves as Vice-President, Terrance Haanen serves as Secretary, and Rachael Baliira serves as Outreach and Diversity Chair. Cancer Biology’s Jennifer Jiménez was the former President (2019) and Operations Manager (2018), Peter Kim recently was VP (2019) and Outreach and Diversity Co-Chair (2018) with April Solon.
Cancer Biology Students have also held positions on the Biomedical Graduate Student Government (BGSG). April Apfelbaum, April Solon as well as Brittany Salazar have been elected to the Executive board of BGSG with Veerin Sirihorachai, Jennifer Jiménez, and Katelyn Donahue serving as representatives of the Cancer Biology program.
In an effort to increase and celebrate diversity, Cancer Biology is heading an initiative known as the "Ambassadors of Diversity". The purpose of the project is to identify, for prospective students, individuals from different backgrounds and perspectives they can speak with about the University Michigan and the Cancer Biology Graduate Training Program. Staff and faculty members are also included in this initiative and can provide guidance and mentorship as well.
Special thanks to Rachael Baliira, Jennifer Jiménez, Daniel Salas-Escabillas, and Dawn Storball for helping to prepare this statement.