The Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation joined forces with National Medical Fellowships to first begin the Robert A. Winn Diversity in Clinical Trials Award Program (Winn Award Program) in 2020. The initiative began with a $100m (€91.9m) commitment to improve diversity and inclusion in clinical trials.
The program initially aimed to train and develop 250 racially and ethnically diverse clinical investigators, or those who demonstrated initiative to increase diversity in clinical trials.
On the announcement that Amgen will join the program, the organizations involved outlined that the program had so far trained 114 early-stage investigator physicians. They also stated that the initiative had provided an ‘immersive experience’ in community-based clinical research to 44 medical students of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.
With the additional financial support from Amgen, the program now expects to reach more than 300 clinical investigators and 300 medical students by 2027. Amgen will provide the $8m in funding over the course of the next four years.
Prior to Amgen supporting the program, Gilead had also provided $14m of additional support, again over a four-year period. At the time, the companies stated the funding would lead to 20 program awards, split evenly between the Winn CDA, a two-year program designed to support diverse physicians, and the Winn CIPP, a six-week summer externship for diverse medical students.
Jude Ngang, executive director, and leader of the Amgen Representation in Clinical Research program, said, “Supporting physicians and medical students dedicated to health equity and emphasizing the need for increasing diversity in clinical trials early in their careers is an important step toward improving the health of all people.”
As part of the announcement of the additional financial support, the companies involved outlined that diversity remains an important issue in clinical trials, and a longstanding one. Those involved cited figures from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that 80% of participants in clinical research trials are white.
However, in recent years, there has been a broader movement towards addressing the issue, with a number of pharma companies being involved in encouraging moves towards greater diversity.
Through its own initiative, Genentech provided $12m to improve equity in care and to diversify the scientific workforce. Likewise, fellow pharma giant, Eli Lilly, also recently noted that its efforts to boost inclusivity in clinical trial recruitment meant that recent trials saw 39% of patients being from minority groups.