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M-Power Makes Impact 

The IMF’s health equity initiative holds NYC events and celebrates Medical Student Scholars 

By Dr. Joseph Mikhael, IMF Chief Medical Officer 

 

The IMF launched its M-Power Initiative to help address health disparities in myeloma. It was built on three major platforms: 

  1. Engage – Deep community engagement to raise awareness of myeloma, its symptoms, and its impact on the African American community, 
  2. Educate – Provide practical education to primary care providers to facilitate the early and accurate diagnosis of myeloma, 
  3. Enhance – Develop programs and activities to enhance the care provided to myeloma patients from traditionally marginalized communities. 

Two examples of M-Power activities are the Medical Student Scholars for Health Equity in Myeloma program and the M-Power NYC program on Juneteenth weekend. 

Medical Student Scholars 

I am particularly proud of our partnership with the National Medical Association (NMA) and the Cobb Institute, the research arm of the NMA. As part of our strategy to enhance the care of patients with myeloma, the IMF developed a program that engages medical students to better understand myeloma and its disparities. Although 14% of the U.S. population is African American, only 6% of doctors are African American. It has been established that patients benefit when a member of their healthcare team shares their heritage; we aim to create a community of doctors dedicated to myeloma in African Americans. 

Together with the Student NMA, we selected the 12 most promising minority applicants, several from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), and paired them with myeloma doctors to work on a myeloma-related health disparities project. 

In July 2023, at the NMA annual meeting in New Orleans, the scholars and mentors joined the IMF leadership team for a special poster session and reception where the students presented their work. This was preceded by the prestigious Jane Cooke Wright MD Symposium on Health Disparities in Cancer, where Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, the director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), provided the keynote lecture. Dr. Bertagnolli then joined me, Yelak Biru (IMF President & CEO), Dr. Edith Mitchell (previous NMA President and long-term IMF Board Member), and Dr. Randall Morgan (CEO, the Cobb Institute) for the spacial “poster walk” with the scholars and their mentors. What an experience for these student scholars to present their work to the director of the NCI! The projects were remarkable and of the highest academic level, and I encourage you to view them online at this link http://bit.ly/3Oyxq8y

In 2024, the Medical Student Scholars program will return for a second year with new selected applicants. Programs like this are part of the IMF’s short-term and long-term solutions of health inequity. 

M-Power NYC 

The IMF is conducting M-Power workshops across the U.S. to reach out to the Black community in partnership with healthcare systems, cancer centers, churches, fraternities and sororities, and others. The M-Power program in New York included a live event at the Riverside Church in Harlem, which was simulcast to Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon. It was a privilege to partner with the church community to reach many who would traditionally not have learned about myeloma. In partnership with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the meeting faculty included doctors, nurses, patients, and care partners. The patient-friendly agenda began with a warm welcome from Yelak Biru, who shared his 28-year journey with myeloma, followed by presentations on topics such as “Race Matters in Myeloma Survival,” “How We Treat Myeloma,” and “Why Participate in Clinical Trials?” In addition, a patient and her care partner (daughter) shared their experience with myeloma. 

The simulcast to Grace Baptist Church had two myeloma physicians present to answer questions from the audience. The IMF’s M-Power initiative also took part in other Juneteenth activities in New York, providing education about myeloma. We are happy to announce that Detroit has joined our M-POWERed cities with its first M-Power workshop on November 4, 2023. For more information about the IMF’s M-Power Initiative, visit mpower.myeloma.org

Stay tuned for Dr. Mikhael’s next #WHEREISDRJOE column and contact the IMF InfoLine with your myeloma-related questions and concerns. Phone lines are open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Pacific) Monday through Friday at 1.800.452.CURE in the U.S. and Canada and 1.818.487.7455 worldwide. To submit your query electronically, email [email protected]

(This article was published in the 2023 Fall Edition of the IMF's quarterly publication, Myeloma Today. Read the full publication here.)

 

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