Cancer Institute researcher receives grant award to increase diversity in clinical trials

A head and shoulders professional portrait of Dr. Stuthi Perimbeti against a background image of Penn State Cancer Institute.Stuthi Perimbeti, MD

Penn State Cancer Institute researcher Stuthi Perimbeti, MD, has received the Robert A. Winn Diversity in Clinical Trials Career Development Award from the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation (BMSF).

December 1, 2023Penn State College of Medicine News

The award is part of a two-year program designed to support diverse early-stage investigator physicians or those who have demonstrated a commitment to increasing diversity in clinical trials research within their local communities.

Perimbeti, an assistant professor of medicine at Penn State College of Medicine and oncologist at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, primarily focuses on the treatment of genitourinary cancer. Her research focus is precision oncology with the goal to improve cancer care equity. Leveraging her biostatistics and artificial intelligence background, Perimbeti’s work identifies biomarkers and harnesses data to conduct clinical trials that reduce disparities and optimize precision cancer care.

According to Perimbeti, mentorship will be a key part of her award. Monika Joshi, MD, professor of medicine, medical director of the Cancer Institute’s Clinical Trials Office and an expert in genitourinary oncology, will mentor Perimbeti as part of the grant. Together, they will develop a clinical trial investigating the safety and efficacy of a Food and Drug Administration-approved radiopharmaceutical for the treatment of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer in ethnic minorities. The hope is to ensure treatment is more effective and inclusive for patients.

Perimbeti noted that this award will help her to advance equitable cancer care at the community level and to fulfill the Cancer Institute’s goal of providing real-time medicine to ensure treatment is more effective and inclusive of patients.

“It is imperative to increase representation in clinical trials,” Perimbeti said. “The training, development and mentorship provided by this grant will equip me to increase clinical trial diversity to help ensure equitable progress in cancer prevention, early detection and treatment for the benefit of all patients.”

About the Robert A. Winn Diversity in Clinical Trials Award Program
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 Winn Award Program was created in 2020 with a $100 million pledge by the BMSF as part of its commitment to health equity, and to address the longstanding lack of diversity in clinical trials. Close to 80 percent 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 Winn Career Development Award offers a comprehensive and integrated approach to increasing diversity in clinical trials through workforce development and mentoring.

The BMSF selected the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) as a curriculum partner to develop the BMSF-AACR Design and Implementation of Clinical Trials Workshop, which is the first training the Winn Career Development Award Scholars receive. Virginia Commonwealth University serves as the program implementation partner under the direction of Winn. Gilead Sciences is a program funding partner, committing $14 million to sponsor a total of 40 Winn Career Development Award recipients and 40 Winn Clinical Investigator Pathway Program award winners 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *