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About 50 people from UNC Lineberger, NC A&T and NC Central in atrium lobby of the cancer center building.UNC Lineberger recently hosted 37 students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and North Carolina Central University who were enrolled last fall in Exploring Cancer: Examining the Role of Biology, Race, Class, and Socioeconomics, an online course co-sponsored by the cancer center, NCCU and NC A&T.

The course, created in 2020 to raise awareness about career and academic opportunities in cancer care and research, is led by Antonio Baines, PhD, associate professor of biological and biomedical sciences at NCCU, Checo J. Rorie, PhD, professor and chair of biology at NC A&T, and Bernard Weissman, PhD, professor of pathology & lab medicine and associate co-director of education at UNC Lineberger. The lectures are presented by researchers, physicians, public health experts, and other cancer specialists from the three universities and other institutions and cover a range of topics, including cancer disparities, treatment modalities, and career opportunities in cancer care and research.

The Exploring Cancer Spring Event provided an opportunity for students, staff and faculty from the three universities to meet in person, something that isn’t typically possible with an online course. Students toured facilities, including the CRISPR Screening Facility and the Translational Genomics Lab, and had the opportunity to learn about graduate programs at UNC, NC A&T and NCCU at an information fair. They also heard presentations from two cancer survivors and a keynote address from UNC Lineberger’s Ronny Bell, PhD, MS, associate director of cancer care access and excellence, on fostering diversity and becoming agents of change.

Weissman said the day had special meaning for him. “Just watching the students ask questions on the core facility tours and during the oral presentations reminded me of what it’s like be young, inquisitive, and enthusiastic for the future. I also thought the end of the event when the students answered the question ‘What is the one lesson you learned today?’ was amazing. The responses were insightful and emphasized why we held this event.”