In the Irvine Lab, we believe that diversity fuels creativity. A plurality of skills, life experiences, and perspectives provides the strongest possible basis for innovative science. We strive to create a lab environment where all are empowered to express their identity and encouraged to contribute their talent.
As scientists we have the power and the responsibility to champion the cause of equality. Science has played a prominent role in perpetuating harmful stereotypes within its community and in society at large. Despite the progress made against acts of overt racism, sexism and other kinds of discrimination, pervasive structural inequities still remain. We strive to be at the forefront of change. We care about the mental and physical health of our lab members before the quality of their work. The Irvine Lab is committed to:
1. Advancing the cause of equity and social justice with the science we choose to pursue. Our research is centered around diseases that have had a disproportionate impact on marginalized communities and communities of color, such as lung1,2 and breast cancer3, HIV4,5, tuberculosis6, and COVID-197.
2. Valuing differences as strengths. Our lab brings together talented people with vastly different backgrounds, nationalities, and cultures. We cherish the opportunity to work in a diverse team as it pertains to race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, age, socioeconomic status, neurocognitive differences, disability, and difference of opinion.
3. Creating an inclusive lab environment. The lab culture we aim for is one where each member is comfortable being their authentic self. This requires respect, understanding and mutual uplifting. Discriminatory behavior, overt or subtle, has no place in our lab. All members of the lab should contribute to identifying and addressing discriminatory behaviors, and, if called out for engaging in such behavior, respond with humility while making an effort to re-educate themselves.
4. Fighting anti-Black racism. Our lab recognizes that systemic anti-Black racism exists in all fields, with academic sciences being no exception. One consequence of this has been the disproportionately low representation of Black scientists in STEM. To fail to address this problem of institutionalized racism is to deny the field Black talent, to uphold inequalities in access to opportunities, and to continue the cycle of only allowing Black communities to marginally benefit from scientific advances. To aid in the dismantling of these racial barriers in science, our lab is committed to increasing opportunities for aspiring Black scientists, and to foster an environment that will enable them to reach their full potential within the lab and beyond. Furthermore, we support and we are actively engaged in research that can yield creative solutions targeted towards some of the diseases that extensively afflict black communities.
5. Seeking continuous education. Through discussions and self-education, lab members are encouraged to improve their understanding of the privileges and disadvantages that each unique identity and their intersection carry in science and beyond. We believe it is important to recognize how the scientific community, and each individual within it, contributes to sustained inequality. Working in a diverse group, we must remain open to learn and challenge our unconscious biases.
6. Reading and citing. We recognize that the invaluable contribution of many scientists has gone unrecognized. We pledge to amplify the work of scientists who have historically been marginalized on the basis of their identity.
7. Mentoring. As a laboratory, we can enact sustained change by forming and supporting the next generation of scientists. We aim to provide training opportunities for all lab members serving in a mentoring role and encourage open and constructive feedback for both mentees and mentors. We will ensure all mentees are aware of resources and reporting mechanisms inside and outside of the lab group in the event of conflict.
8. Recruitment. We advocate for the MIT departments from which we typically attract students to actively recruit students from underrepresented minorities at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. By working directly with several undergraduate research programs, including the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and MIT Summer Research Program (MSRP), we seek to recruit students from underrepresented minorities.
9. Expanding participation in science. According to their personal inclination, lab members are encouraged to engage in outreach activities in communities and schools that have largely been excluded from access to top-tier scientific research.
- Yang, R.; Cheung, M.C.; Byrne, M.M.; Huang, Y.; Nguyen, D.; Lally, B.E.; Koniaris, L.G. Do racial or socioeconomic disparities exist in lung cancer treatment?. Cancer 2010, 116: 2437-2447.
- Schabath, M. B.; Cress, W. D.; Muñoz-Antonia, T.. Racial and Ethnic Differences in the Epidemiology and Genomics of Lung Cancer. Cancer Control 2016, 338–346.
- Richardson, L.C.; Henley, S.J.; Miller, J.W.; Massetti G.; Thomas, C.C. Patterns and Trends in Age-Specific Black-White Differences in Breast Cancer Incidence and Mortality – United States, 1999–2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2016, 65:1093–1098.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV Surveillance Report. 2018 (Updated); vol.31. http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/library/reports/hiv-surveillance.html. Published May 2020. Accessed July 20, 2020.
- Saha, S.; Korthuis, P.T.; Cohn, J.A.; Sharp, V.L.; Moore, R.D.; Beach, M.C. Primary Care Provider Cultural Competence and Racial Disparities in HIV Care and Outcomes. J Gen Intern Med, 2013, 28: 622–629.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health Disparities in TB. 2016 (November 30). https://www.cdc.gov/tb/topic/populations/healthdisparities/default.htm. Accessed July 20, 2020
- Webb, H.M.; Nápoles, A.M.; Pérez-Stable, E.J. COVID-19 and Racial/Ethnic Disparities. JAMA 2020 323(24): 2466–2467.