Access to therapeutics based on advanced technology and data science is not equally available and this situation raises deep ethical concerns for scientists. Professor Maureen Sartor and the DCMB’s DEI committee organized this symposium to increase awareness of such systemic health disparities.
The keynote speaker was Dr. Robert Winn, Director and Lipman Chair in Oncology, VCU Massey Cancer Center and Senior Associate Dean for cancer innovation and Professor of pulmonary disease and critical care medicine, VCU School of Medicine. In his talk titled "The Importance of Place and Space in Cancer Today," Dr. Winn led the audience through the history of health disparities and where we are today. He provided numerous compelling examples, including AI advances, that are not equitably accessible.
Invited speakers Scarlett Gomez, Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco, Michael Sjoding, M.D., University of Michigan, Kristen Purrington, Ph.D., Wayne State University, and Judy Gichoya, M.D., Emory University School of Medicine, provided further examples of how data science can either exacerbate or address racial health disparities.
Leading up to this event, Cristina Mitrea, Ph.D., spearheaded a DCMB’s DEI Data Challenge in which 13 DCMB students participated. The group projects were highlighted and four winners were announced at the symposium: Olivia Alge, Catherine Barnier, Mahnoor Gondal, and Jake Schwartz.
The symposium took place in a hybrid format and was the first event offered to meet in-person since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 165 people were in attendance, mostly remotely, with a diverse mix of faculty, students and staff from DCMB, other U-M departments and beyond.