Latest Cancer Center DEIA Mini-Grants to Foster Career Development

By Erin Hayes | May 16, 2024

Poster session at ASCO Annual Meeting

Physicians, researchers, and health care professionals from over 100 countries attend a poster session at the 59th ASCO Annual Meeting. Photo by © ASCO/Luke Franke 2023.

The Cancer Center’s Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) has awarded a new round of grants to support career development activities for faculty, staff, and trainees across the UCSF cancer community. Made available to women, minorities, and persons with disabilities – populations underrepresented in the scientific workforce – these mini-grants provide up to $3,000 per recipient for conference travel, administrative support, community building, or professional development.

As in previous cycles, the majority of the 33 mini-grants awarded in 2024 were in support of conference travel. "It's not easy to be able to set aside funding for conferences," wrote Audrey Kishishita, a UCSF graduate student who received a travel grant to attend the 2024 ASCO Annual Meeting. "Without proper mechanisms in place to ensure we have professional development, it can become difficult to juggle lab work and extracurricular activities. I know that an important part of research is getting feedback from experts, so I am excited to showcase my work and present a poster."

Featured Awardee: Austin Graham

Austin Graham, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, received a 2024 DEIA Mini-Grant to attend the upcoming American Society for Engineering Education Annual Meeting, an education-focused conference that includes an audience of early career engineers. In addition to presenting research and learning about best practices in engineering education, Graham hopes to inspire a new cohort of biological and medical engineers from a variety of backgrounds.

"My primary reason for attending is to serve on an LGBTQ+ in Engineering panel to share about my experience throughout my career as an out queer person," said Graham. "Science and research have been vital to my development as a queer person, and in turn the scientific values of curiosity and truth have inspired me to live as my most authentic self. I hope that my experience can inspire other LGBTQ+ scientists and engineers to be fully themselves inside and outside of their work."

Featured Awardee: Mayra Gomez Padua

Mayra Gomez Padua, PhD, MA, a clinical psychologist within the cancer center's Psycho-Oncology program, received a 2024 DEIA Mini-Grant to attend the upcoming International Psycho-Oncology Society (IPOS) World Congress. Held in Maastricht, The Netherlands, IPOS provides an opportunity to foster international research collaborations that are difficult to find within the US.

"Attending IPOS is important for my career development as a bilingual Clinical Psychologist aiming to initiate a Spanish Psycho-Oncology Program at UCSF," said Gomez Padua. "While UCSF is among the leaders within oncology and psycho-oncology care, there is a notable gap in specialized resources to Spanish-speaking communities. IPOS would be an invaluable platform to bridge this gap and provide an opportunity for enhancement and growth in serving the Latinx population. Connecting with leading experts invites an opportunity to integrate their innovative approaches at UCSF, enhance our service to the Latinx population, and would propel my professional growth in this specialized area."

Featured Awardee: Kevin Reyes

Kevin Reyes, a medical student and scientific researcher, received a 2024 DEIA Mini-Grant to attend the upcoming American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting.

"This is the largest conference in the world presenting the most innovative and impactful research on cancer," said Reyes. "It is in this space where I will have the opportunity to learn from the brightest minds in oncology, foster connections with peers and mentors for potential future project collaborations, and develop professionally as a medical student interested in pursuing an academic career in hematology/oncology."

Featured Awardee: Audrey Kishishita

Audrey Kishishita, MS, a graduate student in Chemistry and Chemical Biology, received a 2024 DEIA Mini-Grant to attend the upcoming 72nd American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS) Annual Conference.

"Mass spectrometry is a specialized field that is often overlooked in the classroom setting," said Kishishita. "Working in this field requires seeking out personalized training and understanding a broad range of topics. Topics like statistical analysis, biophysics, cellular biology, and chemistry are required to become a mass spectrometrist. I am going to this conference because I'm interested in learning how others think about experimental design and data analysis, in order to improve my own methods. I also seek to network with prospective employers/companies who utilize this technology, and make connections with other scientists in this field."  

Featured Awardee: Samantha Fisch

Samantha Fisch, MD, a clinical resident in Internal Medicine, received a 2024 DEIA Mini-Grant to attend the upcoming American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting. Fisch plans to apply for a hematology and oncology fellowship later this year.

"By attending ASCO, I hope to gain exposure to a variety of topics and fields within hematology and oncology to further explore my career interests prior to starting fellowship," said Fisch. "Furthermore, I will be presenting a poster on my research on metastatic breast cancer. I hope to meet peers and potential mentors with similar interests to make more connections within the field of oncology."