Jefferson Surgical Solutions


Career Development Award recipients Drs. Adeseye Adekeye and Olugbenga Okusanya, are working closely with mentor Nicole Simone, MD (center), Vice Chair of Research & Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Department of Radiation Oncology.

The Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation established the Robert A. Winn Career Development Award (CDA) to increase diversity in clinical trials and transform the clinical research landscape. The program aims to improve representation among two key populations: patients participating in trials as well as the clinicians and scientists leading clinical trials. Assistant Professor of Surgery Adeseye Adekeye, MD, PhD, is one of 64 early-stage investigators selected for the second cohort of the Winn CDA program. The program funds $120,000 a year for two years, with the awardees spending at least 40% of their time on the program. Dr. Adekeye and the other awardees participate in biweekly education and Jefferson Breast Surgeon Selected for Second Cohort of Robert A. Winn Career Development Award training sessions. So far, the meetings have covered the history of clinical trials, a variety of topics related to diversity in clinical trials, design of clinical trials, and different tools to support recruiting of underrepresented minorities. Career development sessions are also included to ensure the continued growth and success of the awardees.

“Communication with the community is key to changing under-representation,” Dr. Adekeye says. “We need to educate people on what to demand from their providers and what they are entitled to as patients.”

She adds, “We also need to explain the benefits of clinical trials and why it’s so important to be included. When groups are excluded, the results of the study may not apply to them. As we move toward more personalized medicine, we need more people from diverse populations to join clinical trials,” explains Dr. Adekeye, who has a doctorate in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology and joined Jefferson Health in August 2021 as a breast surgeon.

As part of the Winn CDA, Dr. Adekeye is being mentored by radiation oncologist Nicole Simone, MD, and is collaborating with her on a study.

“The current standard of care is to administer radiation after surgery,” explains Dr. Adekeye. “We’re going to investigate the outcome when radiation is delivered before surgery.”

Associate Professor and new Vice Chair for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity in the Department of Surgery, Olugbenga Okusanya, MD, was selected as part of the first Winn CDA cohort. Now in his second year of the program, he is also working with Dr. Simone on an investigator-initiated trial studying how changes in surgical technique can decrease the amount of free-circulating tumor DNA in patients with lung cancer.

“The research could potentially change the way hundreds of thousands of lung resections are performed each year,” explains Dr. Okusanya. Patient enrollment is now underway.