Does Racial Bias Affect NCI-Funded PIs' Willingness to Mentor Prospective Graduate Students?

Published In

Cancer Research

Document Type


Publication Date



Audit studies suggest that racial discrimination disadvantages black individuals in educational/professional advancement. We hypothesized that prospective black male doctoral students would experience greater disparity in responses when seeking access to National Cancer Institute (NCI)-funded principal investigators (PI) compared with prospectivewhite males. Primary aim was to explore response and acceptance rates for black versus white men seeking cancer research mentorship. Identical e-mails were sent to 1,028 randomly selected PIs affiliated with 65 NCI-designated cancer centers from "Lamar Washington" (black; n = 515) or "Brad Anderson" (white; n = 513). Primary outcomes: (i) responses within one week; and (ii) type of response. We used logistic regression to examine effects of condition (black/white) on primary outcomes. Approximately 48.3% and 50.0% of the sample responded to "Lamar" and "Brad," respectively. For responders, 40.9% and 43.7% and "agreed" to meet with Lamar and Brad, respectively. This design did not detect bias by PIs against black prospective male students. Cancer Res; 78(17); 4809-11. ©2018 AACR.