We have been appalled by recent events and reaffirm our support for the black community. We mourn lives lost to, or limited by prejudice, and condemn racism in all its forms. We have been reflecting and asking ourselves where we could and should be taking action as PCR.
The Work We Fund
Firstly, we need to evaluate the work we fund. It is our mission to create a better future for families affected by prostate cancer. We know that black men have significantly higher risks of being diagnosed with and dying of prostate cancer, due to a combination of biology, educational opportunities, and unequal access to care. This has made us all the more determined to champion more research into solutions, and to continue our work to achieve greater diversity in the patient panels which inform our research. The research that we fund has the potential to benefit men of every ethnicity around the world. However, in order to address this inequality, specific research is needed into improving outcomes for groups disproportionately affected by prostate cancer. We are already working to get a deeper understanding of why this happens, and the barriers that people face, so that we can develop proposals specifically to raise funds for this work.
The Research Environment
Secondly, we recognize that the research environment could be more equitable. We were already evaluating how to make sure that more of the best and brightest people have equitable opportunities to be part of the solution. To this end, we have significantly tightened up our grant Terms and Conditions with regard to dignity and respect in the research workplace, fair pay, fair recognition, and the right to flexible working for scientists at all career stages who are employed on our grants. We hope that this will make research careers more accessible, and more sustainable, for a broader, more diverse range of people.
Thirdly, our inaugural Patient Panel, last year, was open to all but those who took part were overwhelmingly white. This told us we had a problem as the group most disproportionately affected by prostate cancer didn’t inform our decision-making. Two PCR departments have now been set the objective of improving the diversity of our Patient Involvement over the next year. We have also known for some time that not all of our communications are representative of the US’s diversity. For the past six months, we have been receiving and processing patient feedback on our patient information booklet, and we are now close to issuing a revised edition, which will be more representative.
Continually Assessing Our Progress
Finally, it is critical that we take action now, but that we also continually recognize our need, as an organization, to continually listen and to adapt in the future. We will therefore audit ourselves annually to ensure that we live our values so that we will fund research that seeks to address unequal outcomes, that black people have opportunities to be part of the solution and that we are listening to all voices in everything we do.
We are not a social justice organization, but we are determined to make sure that change happens for the people we are here to serve, in our relentless pursuit of a better future for men with prostate cancer and their families.