Memorial Sloan Kettering Announces Newly Endowed Chair and Fellowships for Health Equity and Diversity

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Carol L. Brown

Carol L. Brown, MD

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) today announced the newly established Nicholls-Biondi Chair for Health Equity. This permanently endowed chair is dedicated to improving outcomes for patients from medically underserved communities and building a base of knowledge to facilitate health equity for people with cancer worldwide.

Endowed through a gift from Jamie C. Nicholls, Vice Chair, MSK Boards of Trustees and Governing Trustees, and Chair, Memorial Hospital Board of Governing Trustees, and her husband O. Francis Biondi, the Nicholls-Biondi Chair reflects MSK’s commitment to expanding patient access to cancer care and supporting ongoing research aimed at reducing cancer disparities that stem from racial, ethnic, cultural, or socioeconomic barriers.

The gift of $7 million from Ms. Nicholls and Mr. Biondi will also fund the establishment of the Nicholls-Biondi Diversity Clinical Scientist Fellowships for Academic Careers in Cancer Research. Clinical scientists contribute to the critical research that leads to the discovery of new drugs, and their work influences the future of clinical trials, therapies, and patient care. These fellowships will help recruit, train, and retain physician-scientists from groups that have long been underrepresented in science – a dynamic that has been shown to adversely affect patients. MSK is dedicated to bridging the gap by providing these aspiring physician-scientists the clinical and scientific training necessary to become leaders in cancer research and enact real change for the future.

“Fran and I are honored to support MSK and help build on its work to expand access to clinical research and cancer care for underserved communities,” Ms. Nicholls said. “Cancer knows no boundaries, and neither should quality cancer care. This chair will help MSK continue to lead the way in overcoming the significant inequalities and disparities that exist today in cancer care and ensure that people from all backgrounds achieve equitable cancer outcomes.”

Ms. Nicholls added, “We are also very proud to support the development of the next generation of physician-scientists at MSK. The individuals who receive these fellowships will bring a range of perspectives to cancer research, prevention, and care, and will continue to move the field forward in years to come.”

Scott Stuart, Chair, MSK Boards of Trustees and Governing Trustees, said: “Establishing this chair and these fellowships are important steps in our continued efforts to foster a culture of equity and inclusion, and to improve cancer outcomes in underserved communities around the globe. They underline our commitment to providing equal access to the highest quality cancer care to all patients, as well as training and career opportunities for new clinicians, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic status.”

Carol Brown, MD, a gynecologic cancer surgeon at MSK, has been appointed the inaugural incumbent of the Nicholls-Biondi Chair. An endowed chair represents one of the highest honors Memorial Sloan Kettering bestows on its most talented faculty.

For more than two decades, Dr. Brown has used her surgical expertise to provide high-quality and compassionate care to women with ovarian, uterine, cervical, and vulvar cancer at MSK. In addition to treating women with cancer, Dr. Brown has focused her career on the reduction and elimination of cancer health disparities experienced by medically underserved populations. Along with her appointment as the inaugural incumbent of the Nicholls-Biondi Chair, she has also been named MSK’s first Chief Health Equity Officer.

“Dr. Brown is an accomplished surgeon with an unwavering commitment to delivering cancer care to underserved populations and addressing the inequalities that exist for many in the healthcare system,” said Lisa M. DeAngelis, MD, MSK’s Physician-in-Chief and Chief Medical Officer. “She will bring invaluable expertise as the Nicholls-Biondi Chair, enhancing MSK’s ability to eliminate access barriers while driving other initiatives to help achieve our health equity goals.”

Dr. Brown said, “I’m honored to be named the inaugural incumbent of the Nicholls-Biondi Chair, which reflects the importance MSK places on a critical cause that has long been at the center of my work. There is still much to learn about disparities in cancer care and how best to ensure every patient has access to high quality care and optimal outcomes, regardless of their background, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to accelerate our understanding and solutions.”

Craig B. Thompson, MSK’s President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “The creation of these fellowships and this chair, to be held by Dr. Brown, are vital steps on MSK’s path toward becoming a more inclusive, equitable, and diverse institution. By creating new opportunities for clinical research and professional training for people from historically underrepresented groups, and improving access to care in our community, we are uniquely positioned to improve the lives of all the patients we serve and positively shape cancer outcomes worldwide.”