BMS, GRYT Health push for diversity in oncology with new initiative

GRYT and Bristol Myers Squibb's Diversity in Oncology is the latest initiative to try and address the problems with health inequality in the United States. (GRYT & BMS)

Megan-Claire Chase, partnership director at GRYT Health, wears a sparkly breast cancer ribbon clip in her short hair. She says she wears a number of accoutrements these days because after her hair grew back post-chemo she felt she needed them to feel more feminine.

This is a feeling many breast cancer survivors share—no matter what their race. Unfortunately, hair loss and regrowth is one of the few aspects of cancer that crosses all cultures and races. GRYT, a digital oncology company, is continuing it’s multiyear partnership with Bristol Myers Squibb and is launching a new virtual platform, Diversity in Oncology, a four-part series of live, interactive sessions beginning Oct. 27and running every few weeks through February to highlight and change some long-standing and prevalent disparities.

Addressing this problem is seemingly de rigueur these days, but this initiative focuses on one of the most necessary aspects of health inequality in cancer—the lack of diversity in clinical trials.

RELATED: Keytruda maker Merck rolls web series to illuminate triple-negative breast cancer and Black women

“With this first session we're going to have real patients from the African American community, from the Hispanic/Latin community, from the Asian and Pan-Asian community and a caregiver to talk about their experiences within clinical trials. For some, their doctors never even mentioned a clinical trial to them. With others, okay they got into the clinical trial but then the verbiage was racist,” Chase said.

RELATED: With pandemic easing, Bristol Myers Squibb takes its GRYT-partnered digital advocacy group beyond COVID-19

The following three forums will cover further topics related to diversity in oncology, including: Experience of Diverse Physicians in Clinical Research, Improving Representation of Diversity in Clinical Trials Through Academia and Community Collaboration and New Model of Academia / Community Partnership in Clinical Research. The sessions will feature breakout rooms so that participants can really drill down into the topics and explore them in a more intimate setting.  All the sessions will be recorded and available for download on the Diversity in Oncology site.

It’s from the smaller breakout sessions that Chase feels they’ll really find some information to work with.

“Once you know something, it's what you do with that after, and that's what GRYT and BMS are trying to do with this initiative—we need to know what the issues are and how deep they are first," Chase said.

The event will be heralded with a social media push, which Chase says will ramp up closer to the event.

BMS has an active oncology portfolio including standouts Opdivo and Yervoy.