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$5 million gift funds new Diversity in Cancer Research Program

We are excited to share that a $5 million gift from the Phillip and Elizabeth Gross Family Endowment will support the creation of the American Cancer Society’s new Diversity in Cancer Research program, a permanent umbrella that will support our effort to foster a more diverse scientific workforce community.  

This initial investment will launch our Diversity in Research Internship program, which will fund biomedical cancer research internships for undergraduate students from racial or ethnic backgrounds that are underrepresented in the scientific community, with a goal of promoting a more diverse scientific workforce in the long run. 

Diversity in science is key to invigorating problem-solving, driving innovation, and ultimately positioning the scientific community to better address inequity in cancer prevention, treatment, and care. We hope to sustain the program for about a decade, and continue to fundraise in support of the program. 

The program will launch this summer with an initial class of 25-40 interns from 5-10 schools around the U.S. Starting in 2022, we anticipate funding about 100 internships at 20-25 programs around the country. We’ll share more about the application process in the months to come.  

The investment comes as part of the research funding campaign ACS launched last July. The concept – an internship program aimed at increasing diversity within the science community – was developed by Bill Phelps, PhD, SVP, extramural discovery science, and Chris Thomas, senior director, philanthropy, with Tawana Thomas-Johnson, VP, diversity and inclusion, providing strategic guidance at every step of the development and implementation of the program. 

The Gross family has taken a leadership role in diversity in multiple areas and felt that the ACS Diversity in Research Program was of critical importance and wanted to guarantee it would be a permanent part of ACS.

“In the fight against cancer, advancements in research provide the best hope for saving millions more lives,” said Elizabeth Gross (pictured here.) “Phill and I believe that creating opportunities for a more diverse community of cancer researchers will not only spur innovation and ingenuity, but it will help eradicate health disparities, build trust across these various communities, and advance cancer care for everyone. It is our joy to assist in this important work alongside the American Cancer Society.”

For more on the program, contact Bill Phelps. And for questions related to fundraising support for the program, contact Chris Thomas.


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