The Cancer Equity Leaders (CEL) is a diverse team of premier cancer research leaders working under the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities. NCI announced the group and its members in an April 2024 blog post.

Tasked with three objectives, the group will reimagine and transform NCI’s approach to cancer health equity through:

  • Identifying critical strengths and gaps in cancer equity infrastructure
  • Prioritizing critical needs for expanding institutional capacity and achieving cancer health equity
  • Developing a strategic agenda to enhance the National Cancer Plan

“Through this work, the CEL will contribute to our understanding of cancer health equity and help the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities determine NCI’s diversity training, biomedical workforce development, and community outreach and engagement initiatives,” NCI staff wrote.

Co-chaired by Sanya A. Springfield, PhD, NCI Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities director, and Karen Winkfield, MD, PhD, executive director of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance and Associate Director for Community Outreach and Engagement at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, the CEL comprises 13 members.

“The researchers are well-renowned and deeply respected cancer center and medical school leaders with extensive expertise in the aforementioned areas and exceptional knowledge and understanding of all stages of the cancer continuum,” NCI staff wrote.

In 2025, the CEL team will host an event to hear and learn diverse perspectives across the cancer community to further advance NCI’s health equity efforts.

NCI established the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities in 2001 to help reduce the unequal burden of cancer in the United States by:

  • Leading NCI’s efforts in workforce diversity by training students and investigators from diverse backgrounds.
  • Strengthening NCI’s cancer research portfolio in basic, clinical, translational, and population-based research to address cancer health disparities through collaborations with NCI divisions, offices, and centers.
  • Building regional networks to foster collaboration, enhance capacity in disparities research and career development, and disseminate culturally appropriate, evidence-based cancer information to underserved communities.
  • Providing technical expertise, information, and advice to NCI leadership on strategic priorities, program direction, and scientific policy to strengthen diversity training opportunities and cancer health disparities research.

Learn more about inequities and barriers to accessing quality cancer care on the Oncology Nursing Podcast Episode 107: Social Determinants Lead to Unequal Access to Health Care.