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Upstate researcher honored as a 2022 Minority and Minority-Serving Institution Faculty Scholar

Upstate Medical University’s Mariano Viapiano, PhD, has been named a 2022 Minority and Minority-Serving Institution Faculty Scholar by the American Association for Cancer Research.

The AACR honors a selection of researchers every year with the goal of increasing “the number of underrepresented minorities participating as competitive NCI/ NIH-funded cancer researchers” with a grant from the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities. Viapiano is one of just over two dozen researchers from across the country to receive this honor in 2022.

“I’m very honored to receive this award,” says Viapiano, “It’s an important mission of the AACR and I’m happy to contribute to that in any way.”

Viapiano outlines two distinct advantages of increasing diversity in cancer research that he’s seen over his decades in the field.

“By bringing minority scientists to increase diversity in research groups or clinical trials, you are bringing people who have different narratives, life experiences,” he said. This leads to an expansion of the “knowledge base that people can bring to research projects and in clinical trials.”

Secondly, Viapiano sees a positive impact of diversity for those being treated as well. When a patient sees themself represented in the medical provider treating them when they can speak the same language, it helps create trust, he said.

“That actually allows us as scientists to do better recruitment of underrepresented minorities into clinical trials, which allows us to provide better care,” he said. “It even allows us to capture a better snapshot of the population we are trying to serve and allows us to become aware of racial or ethnic differences in cancer that we wouldn’t be aware of otherwise.”

An Empire Scholar, Viapiano is an associate professor of neuroscience and physiology. He received his PhD from the University of Argentina, Buenos Aires. Viapiano currently serves as the Director of the Brain Tumor Laboratory and Biorepository at Upstate Medical University. He joined Upstate in 2016.