Making the Case for Diversity in Clinical Trials

In January, the Chamber’s Equality of Opportunity Initiative and the Discover & Deliver campaign hosted a conversation about the importance of promoting racial diversity in clinical trials.

Why it matters: Black Americans are dying of COVID-19 at 1.6 times the rate of their white neighbors. The Chamber believes it is imperative new COVID-19 treatments are tested in populations most impacted by the virus. 

What happened? Quita Highsmith, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at Genentech, and Nick Kenny, Chief Scientific Officer at Syneos Health, joined a conversation with Rick Wade, the Chamber’s senior vice president of Strategic Alliances and Outreach, to discuss what the business community can do to support the inclusion of diverse communities in clinical research.

Key takeaways:

  • This is a long-standing problem. There is a natural hesitancy for underrepresented communities to participate in clinical research, given the longstanding structural inequities and the historic mistrust in the healthcare system.
  • We must start with education. Highsmith and Kenny both emphasized that we need to ensure that everyone involved in the clinical research study are educated about cultural sensitivity and the importance of ensuring communities of color are represented.
  • We must be intentional about clinical trial design. We need to look at where the disease burden lies and identify ways to reach the patients in those communities. To do this, we need to meet people where they are, be it local community health centers, churches, barber shops, or beauty salons.

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