a large group of diverse students and faculty stand together in the Hollings Cancer Center lobby for a picture

Inclusive Excellence at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center

At MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, we believe that diversity drives innovation, promotes equity, and improves the patient experience. We are committed to creating a diverse workforce by recruiting and retaining trainees, faculty and staff that fully represent the communities we serve. We strive to maintain an inclusive culture that values all individuals.

Building a diverse cancer workforce

A diverse and inclusive workforce is critical for cancer centers to promote equity and eliminate cancer disparities. Unfortunately, certain populations, including women and some racial/ethnic groups, continue to be underrepresented in cancer research and care.

The mission of the Hollings Office of Programs to Enhance Diversity (OPED) is to build a cancer workforce that reflects the diversity of our nation and is equipped to serve the state of South Carolina. OPED maintains the infrastructure for pathway programs to support the advancement of underrepresented in the scientific workforce (URSW) populations into cancer research and care positions.

Starting with robust partnerships with local high schools and Historically Black Colleges and Universities in South Carolina, the pathways span from engaging high school learners to preparing mid-career faculty for leadership positions.

Programs and Initiatives

Cancer research student Victoria Jordan stands with her mentor Mike Ostrowski 
South Carolina State University student Victoria Jordan worked on pancreatic cancer research in Dr. Mike Ostrowski's lab as part of the South Carolina Cancer Health Equity Consortium.

OPED works closely with the Community Outreach and Engagement Office and the Cancer Research Training and Education Coordination Office at Hollings — as well as the MUSC Office of Equity — to promote diversity and inclusion across all levels of faculty, staff and trainees. Some of our collaborative programs and initiatives include:

  • Summer training programs for high school students interested in biomedical careers
  • College pathway programs targeting URSW students
  • MENTOR-UP Program to provide mentoring and advancement into oncology-related fields for URSW individuals
  • Developing Leaders Program
  • In-person recruitment of URSW trainees at national conferences
  • Professional development activities for URSW trainees and faculty
  • Annual climate survey to guide future plans and initiatives

Leadership

Nicholas Shungu headshot

Nicholas Shungu, M.D.

Associate Director, Office of Programs to Enhance Diversity (OPED)

Dr. Shungu, an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine, joined Hollings leadership as the Associate Director of the Office of Programs to Enhance Diversity in 2022. He serves as chair for the Hollings Inclusive Excellence Committee and is an active member of the Hollings Executive Leadership Council.

Shungu also participates in the National Cancer Center DEI Networking Group which shares best practices on inclusive excellence. He is passionate about advancing diversity and promoting inclusion within the cancer center and is honored to serve in a leadership role at Hollings.

Joni Nelson headshot

Joni Nelson, Ph.D.

Assistant Director, Office of Programs to Enhance Diversity (OPED)

Dr. Nelson has dual appointments in the Department of Public Health Sciences in the College of Medicine and the Department of Stomatology in the James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine, where she also serves as deputy director in the Division of Population Oral Health. As assistant director of OPED, she works with Dr. Shungu to support diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at Hollings.

portrait of Destiny Harley with Hollings Cancer Center

Destiny Harley, MHA

OPED Program Coordinator

Destiny Harley serves as the OPED program coordinator. She obtained her BS and MBA from Claflin University before completing a Master in Health Administration at MUSC. She has experience as the MUSC Student Diversity Leadership Council president and co-director of the Student Mentors for Minorities in Healthcare program.

Office of Programs to Enhance Diversity (OPED)

OPED supports Dr. Shungu in diversifying Hollings’ workforce and leadership and promoting a culture of inclusive excellence, including demographic data management, oversight of mentorship programs, and coordination of Hollings Inclusive Excellence Committee meetings and activities.

Hollings Inclusive Excellence Committee

Chaired by Dr. Shungu, this committee was formed to ensure close support for the goal to develop and maintain a diverse workforce. It meets monthly to develop and track DEI metrics of progress and evaluate where strategic initiatives or additional resources are needed. The committee is composed of individuals representing diversity across gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability, department, and academic rank.