National Cancer Institute (NCI) Director Monica Bertagnolli, M.D., today announced the creation of the NCI Worta McCaskill-Stevens Career Development Award for Community Oncology and Prevention Research (K12). This training award, focused on community oncology and cancer prevention, is named after medical oncologist Worta McCaskill-Stevens, M.D., who leads the NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP). NCORP is a national network that brings cancer clinical trials and care delivery studies to people in their own communities through more than 1,000 medical practices at diverse, community-based hospitals and practices.
In remarks at the 2023 NCORP annual meeting, Dr. Bertagnolli discussed Dr. McCaskill-Stevens’ contributions to breast cancer research and how she has championed diversity in cancer research and better care for underserved communities. “Since joining NCI in 1998, Dr. McCaskill-Stevens has certainly made her mark in both of these areas,” Dr. Bertagnolli said. “Her work has helped us to make important progress in breast cancer screening and prevention and in community-based clinical trials. She is a leader and visionary in designing clinical oncology research to help all populations benefit from its advances. Throughout her career, Worta’s passion and commitment to follow the road less traveled have truly changed the trajectory of community cancer research and have inspired others to follow in her footsteps.”
She added that “while we all know there is only one Worta McCaskill-Stevens, this award will surely help others to carry on her legacy by becoming important leaders in advancing health equity through clinical research, each in their own way.”
When the announcement occurred at the 2023 NCORP annual meeting in front of representatives from the NCORP institutions, they gave her a standing ovation.
A message from First Lady Dr. Jill Biden presented at the meeting congratulated Dr. McCaskill-Stevens on this “well-deserved honor.” “As First Lady, I have seen how the NCORP network you have built is making a difference for people in communities across our country. With this new fellowship, more people will follow the path you have pioneered—ensuring everyone can benefit from cancer research.”
Philip Castle, Ph.D., director of the NCI Division of Cancer Prevention added, “Thank you to Worta for her amazing leadership, her persistence, and her unwavering support for this program that reaches all corners of the United States.”
The newly named award, to be published in April 2024, invites applications for institutional research career development programs to support the training of clinical scientists in community cancer prevention, intervention, and treatment research. Special emphasis is placed on training of clinical scientists whose career goal is to meet the needs of underserved or underrepresented communities for access to clinical care and participation in clinical research.
The NCI Worta McCaskill-Stevens Career Development Award for Community Oncology and Prevention Research (K12) will encourage applications proposing creative trans-disciplinary and innovative institutional research career development programs to address the challenge of implementing changes in community-based prevention and cancer care delivery research with an equity lens. Program areas of interest include, but are not limited to, cancer health disparities research both nationally and internationally, management of comorbidities within clinical trials, and molecular research that helps to identify those individuals who will best benefit from cancer prevention interventions.