Inaugural group of students selected for Lifespan Cancer Institute program

PROVIDENCE – Twenty public high school students of color from Central Falls, Pawtucket and Providence have been selected for the inaugural cohort of the Future Gen Cancer Scholars program at the Lifespan Cancer Institute.

The program aims to build the next generation of cancer physicians and researchers who reflect the communities they serve. It’s being funded by a grant awarded to the institute in 2022 by the Papitto Opportunity Connection.

“This is an incredibly forward-thinking program with the power to change not only the lives of young people in our community but also the face of cancer care in Rhode Island and beyond,” said John Fernandez, Lifespan Corp. CEO and president. “Lifespan is home to some of the country’s leading minds in cancer medicine and research, and to expose students to their tutelage and to real patient experiences with the goal that they pursue a career in the field is a game-changer. We are beyond excited to welcome these teens to campus this summer.”

The Future Gen Cancer Scholars program intends to address the low number of persons of color working in hematology/oncology in the United States. Experts often point to this shortage as a leading cause of lessened cancer screenings and general mistrust of the medical system by communities of color.

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“The enthusiasm of everyone involved with the Future Gen program has been incredible, from schools and educators to the students and my colleagues … I cannot wait for the summer for the program to officially [begin],” said Dr. Howard Safran, chief of hematology/oncology at Lifespan Cancer Institute who developed the program. “There will be a lot for the students to learn and process, and I know they’re eager to get going, as well. I truly believe this is a program in which the sky is the limit.”