Conference to Celebrate and Support Black Cancer Researchers 

By Mary Ellen Hackett, contributing writer, FNL Public Affairs and Communications Office; images by Pamela Beltowski, Al Kane, and Joe Meyer, staff illustrators
Black in Cancer event card

Editor’s note: A version of this article originally appeared on the Frederick National Laboratory website.

The cancer community will come together for a two-day conference designed to celebrate Black contributions in cancer research and to connect future investigators and collaborators, in order to pave the way for the next generation of Black cancer research professionals. 

Black in Cancer, a U.S./U.K.-based organization, and the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research are co-hosts of the 2024 Black in Cancer Conference, set for June 20–21 at the Natcher Conference Center on the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda. Conference registration is free and open to the public. Students, faculty, and early-career investigators are encouraged to attend. 

“Black people are underrepresented in cancer research while overrepresented in cancer mortality,” said Sigourney Bonner, a Ph.D. candidate at Cambridge University, who co-founded Black in Cancer in 2020 to highlight Black excellence in cancer research and medicine through pipeline creation, mentorship, and community outreach and education. 

The organization partnered with Cancer Research UK on the first Black in Cancer Conference in 2022, when more than 220 Black cancer researchers and allies met in London to collaborate, network, and celebrate. 

The U.S. Black in Cancer Conference agenda includes seminars, panel discussions, and networking sessions geared to cancer researchers at all career levels, with topics like AI and the future of Black cancer care, diversity in clinical trials, and workforce diversity and pathway programs. 

“As scientists, one of our most important responsibilities is to mentor and support our future colleagues, setting them up for career success to discover better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer,” said Ethan Dmitrovsky, M.D. president of Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc., and director of the Frederick National Laboratory, which is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. “We also seek to promote more diversity in our clinical and scientific teams as evidence shows diverse scientific teams are the most productive ones.”  

Organizers encourage undergraduate, graduate, and postdoc students to attend the Black in Cancer Conference, which will include a poster session. The event will feature multiple opportunities for networking, and students will have opportunities to highlight their research in the poster and lightning round presentations.  

Learn more about registration and abstract submission at the Black in Cancer Conference event page.   


Mary Ellen Hackett is the communications manager at Frederick National Laboratory, where she leads the Public Affairs and Communications Office. PACO supports FNL through external communications and community relations, internal business communications, and creative multimedia services.