Yale, Vanderbilt, Morehouse join to increase trial diversity

By Jenni Spinner

- Last updated on GMT

(Marko Geber/iStock via Getty Images Plus)
(Marko Geber/iStock via Getty Images Plus)

Related tags diversity Patient centricity patient engagement Patient recruitment Clinical trials Research

The research institutions are joining on a community-based collaborative initiative to work toward greater study inclusion, supported by funding from PhRMA.

A collection of noted medical research institutions have joined forces to create Equitable Breakthroughs in Medicine Development, a collaborative initiative intended to elevate diversity and equity in clinical trial participation. Supported by grant funding from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the initiative includes:

  • Yale School of Medicine
  • Morehouse School of Medicine
  • Research Centers in Minority Institutions Coordinating Center at Morehouse School of Medicine
  • Vanderbilt University Medical Center

According to the collaboration partners, Equitable Breakthroughs in Medicine Development will work toward increasing the involvement of patients from underrepresented communities. The group plans to work over the course of the next 18 months to bring together diverse communities, patients, providers, health partners, community organizations, and academic institutions, along with individual clinical trial sponsors, to pilot a network of sustainable, connected, community-based trial sites.

Addressing health inequities—including increasing the participation of diverse populations in clinical trials —is a priority of Yale School of Medicine​,” said Nancy Brown, Jean and David W. Wallace Dean of Medicine and C.N.H. Long Professor of Internal Medicine at Yale School of Medicine. “We have made inroads in this area over the past decade and are eager to partner with our colleagues to continue to find ways to have an impact on the health of communities of color.​”

According to the group, Equitable Breakthroughs in Medicine Development will bring pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, and providers together with community groups and leaders. Its goals include reducing health disparities with a specific focus on mentorship for staff at clinical trial sites, sustainable support for local community-based sites, and partnership with communities of color that have historically been underrepresented. 

The Equitable Breakthroughs in Medicine Development community-based trial sites will endeavor to: 

  • Partner with trusted messengers and community leaders to raise education, awareness, and support for clinical trial participation.
  • Provide the resources and technical support for local sites to be successful, sustainable, and thrive.
  • Build training opportunities and mentorship for investigators and staff.

Morehouse School of Medicine and the RCMI Consortium are committed to increasing diversity and inclusion in clinical trials as we lead the creation and advancement of global health equity,​” said Elizabeth Ofili, Professor of Medicine and Principal Investigator of the RCMI Coordinating Center at Morehouse School of Medicine “While this level of comprehensive collaboration is a first-of-its-kind initiative, it’s important to recognize that MSM and others have been working tirelessly on this issue for decades​.”

Ofili added, “We are honored and excited to be partnering with the community systems, providers, and the patients they serve, who are and always have been committed to inclusive clinical trials and medicine development. Their questions, feedback, insight, participation, and leadership will be crucial to creating and maintaining a sustainable proof of concept​.”

Peter Embi (professor of biomedical informatics and medicine, chair of biomedical informatics, and senior vice president for research and innovation at Vanderbilt University Medical Center) said, “To ensure that clinical trial results are relevant and applicable across diverse populations, we must find new ways to ethically and effectively improve participation by people from diverse backgrounds. At VUMC, we are focused on advancing personalized health care for everyone, and enabling equitable participation in clinical trials is essential to that mission​.”

Embri added, “As a physician, researcher, and proud member of the Hispanic-American community, I recognize that we face many challenges in overcoming disparities in clinical trials and health care, and I am excited to partner with my colleagues on this critically important initiative. Through our collaboration, I’m confident that we will learn and implement new ways to overcome systemic barriers and improve the pace of ethical research for those who have been historically under-represented​.”

Our goal is to make sure all people, regardless of geography, socioeconomics, race, ethnicity, or gender identity, who want to participate in a clinical trial have the opportunity to do so​,” said Ramona Sequeira, president of Takeda’s global portfolio division and chair of PhRMA’s board. “Equitable Breakthroughs in Medicine Development will help make this goal a reality by meaningfully addressing local, long-standing barriers to clinical trial participation​.”

The initiative’s pilot sites reportedly will begin opening this summer in the Southeast and Southwest and will serve as an anchor from which further engagement and work in communities will grow, including mentorship and training opportunities for a diverse clinical trial workforce, as well as ongoing engagement and dialogue with the patient community on the benefits of being a part of clinical trials. Learn more about the effort and progress at PhRMA.org/Equity​.

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