Rutgers faculty member Malcolm Mattes is among the 52 physicians from across the United States who were selected for the inaugural cohort of the Diversity in Clinical Trials Career Development Program, a five-year, $100 million initiative launched by Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation in partnership with the National Medical Fellowships organization and the American Association for Cancer Research.

portrait of Malcolm MattesMattes is a radiation oncologist at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and an associate professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He specializes in the treatment of gynecologic, genitourinary, lung, breast, and musculoskeletal tumors, and he believes strongly in patient-centered care.

“Many minority patients with cancer in the U.S. have limited opportunities for enrollment in clinical trials, which negatively affects the care they receive and the care of future patients in their communities,” Mattes says. “The Diversity in Clinical Trials Career Development Program will help promote enrollment of a more diverse patient population at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey facilities in Newark and New Brunswick, and it will enhance my skills as a clinical researcher.”

In its announcement of the training program’s inaugural participants, Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation calls the selected physicians “community-oriented clinical trialists” and an accomplished group of early-stage investigators from a broad range of health care institutions in 22 states across the country. The physicians represent a diverse cross-section of races and ethnicities and bring varied perspectives and experiences to the program, as well as to their therapeutic focus areas of cancer, immunologic disorders, and cardiovascular diseases.

The training program is one of several health equity and diversity and inclusion commitments made last year by the foundation and its donor, Bristol Myers Squibb. According to the announcement, participants will be trained as world-class clinical research scientists with additional knowledge, skills, and competencies in effective community outreach and engagement. This new generation of physician investigators will have the potential to transform the clinical research landscape by conducting clinical trials designed with the goal of increasing the diversity of their participants.

“I’m awed by this inaugural group of clinicians, who have demonstrated their passion for and dedication to addressing the disparities in clinical research through community engagement,” says Robert A. Winn, chair of the training program’s national advisory committee and director of the Massey Cancer Center at Virginia Commonwealth University. “I’m confident that, when they complete this program, these scholars will have the skills not only to conduct high-impact clinical trials, but also to work within communities to build trust with at-risk populations, getting past the fear and skepticism that can often exist, to give the underserved better access to this important tool in health care research.”

Read the full announcement issued by Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation.