Taylor Barrow is taking a break from her first year of clinical internships at Wayne State University School of Medicine, but the reason for her temporary absence is valid. The third-year medical student was one of only two people nationwide accepted into the medical oncology section of Yale Cancer Center’s new Oncology Diversity Enhancement Program.
The program provides two underrepresented medical students or residents with exposure to hematology/medical oncology as a career, clinical experience mentored by oncology faculty, and a corresponding clinical or translational research project. She will begin the eight-week rotation at the end of September.
“I’m very interested in how the environment, especially cities like Detroit and even New Haven, affects cancer rates, diagnostic times, and health outcomes among black residents. I started my application by sharing a bit of my family history, how my grandparents, those living and those I’ve never met, all lifelong Detroiters, have a relationship with cancer,” Barrow said. “Like many Detroiters, my legacy begins with the great migration to escape south from Jim Crow, relocate, and find community in this city. Many infrastructure changes, racism, and environmental misdeeds plagued my ancestors, but they have lasted. How does the field of oncology and cancer fit into this story? What caused their bodies to respond in this way? What new things can I learn about the field? to better help me understand my heritage? This, and I’m sure many more lessons, await me in New Haven.
Barrow discovered the Yale program through his involvement with the Karmanos Cancer Institute, specifically its Health Equity Book Club.
“I often sat in their panel discussing various books on intersectional bias in race and health care. Together, we would reflect on our own experiences in life and with patients, and seek to consider how we might to be better past, present and future providers,” she said. “More than that, however, the folks at Karmanos, who were great mentors and confidants, gave me this opportunity. to send a letter from Karmanos officials attesting to my candidacy Without their support, in particular Drs. Michelle Côté, Danny Inman, Ann Schwartz and Michael Simon, I wouldn’t have been so lucky.”
(Learn more about the book club at https://www.karmanos.org/karmanos/health-equity-book-club).
Once in New Haven, Barrow will benefit from the mentorship of T32 medical oncology-hematology fellows.
“I am honored to have the chance to have more mentors and to be in a new environment like Yale. However, I am also a Detroit born and raised Eastsider and a black woman. bring my perspective, my story and Detroit to the table,” Barrow said. “The only reason I got into medicine is to serve the people of my community, and opportunities like this, with its resources and connections, are what the Detroiters deserve. The folks at Yale have been so kind and informative before, and I look forward to continuing to develop relationships there and taking what I’ve learned home.
The Oncology Diversity Enhancement Program is a new opportunity for students considered underrepresented in medicine, said Roy Herbst, MD, Ph.D., associate director of clinical affairs and chief of medical oncology at Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital, and Associate Dean for Translational Research at Yale School of Medicine.
“Our inaugural class will gain impactful oncology experience throughout its eight-week rotation, with mentorship from our outstanding faculty and fellows. We are thrilled to offer this program and to be able to add to the many talented physician-scientists we have here at Yale,” he said.
Expenses, including living, transportation, and research costs, are paid by the program, up to a maximum of $5,000 per student. Barrow is taking a leave of absence from WSU to participate in the program and will be a member of the Class of 2025 upon his return.
“Honestly, I’ll be a sponge over these two months, soaking up everything clinical, social, environmental and more,” she said.
The visit is not his first time in Connecticut. She worked as an organizer and in the non-profit sector for several years in New Haven and Bridgeport. “The people there remind me so much of Detroit – and honestly helped me find my voice in activism, especially the lessons I learned from Bridgeport Generation Now, CT-Core, Skateport, Caroline House, Green Village Initiative and many more. I am delighted to reconnect with this community. Even though I didn’t spend a lot of time at Yale, I’m also happy to have a new perspective on the city,” she added.