ATLANTA, September 20, 2018 — Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) will launch a program specifically designed to increase the number of African American, Latino and other minority patients in clinical trials, in an effort that could eventually lead to the development of medical treatments better tailored for those populations.
Under the three-year program, minority physicians will be recruited to conduct clinical trials—research studies that prospectively assign human participants or groups of humans to one or more health-related interventions to evaluate the effects on health outcomes. MSM will provide education and mentoring to recruited physicians. The goal is to encourage more minority patients to participate in clinical trials by taking trials directly to minority patient populations.
Removing barriers to minority physicians leading clinical trials
“Minority healthcare providers do not participate in clinical trials at the same rate as physicians overall,” said Priscilla Pemu, M.D., professor and vice chair (research) in the Department of Medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine. Dr. Pemu will serve as the project director for the program. “We will use the resources we have to plug this pipeline, to make sure more minority providers are participating in clinical trials. Our hope is to ultimately lead to increased participation in clinical trials by their patients.”
This approach should lead to many more minority physicians/investigators who have positive experiences conducting trials, which in turn, should result in many more minority patients in trials. “The grant is unique because its focus is recruiting minority clinical trial investigators, who in turn would recruit more minority patients in the environment where they already receive regular health care,” said Marjorie A. Speers, executive director of Clinical Research Pathways. “All of these efforts, should lead to research results that consider the diversity of our patient population, leading to more health equity.”
Initial focus: cardiovascular disease
During the first year of the program, MSM will focus on educating and mentoring physicians on clinical trials related to cardiovascular disease—the leading cause of death worldwide. Cardiovascular disease presents an even higher risk for African American and Latino patients. Later, the program will expand to include cancer, neuroscience, and arthritis.
Although the medical school will initially focus on the Atlanta area, the program will eventually expand statewide and across the southeastern region.
“Our goal is to more than double the number of African American and other minority physicians who conduct clinical trials in Georgia,” Speers said. “We then hope to expand this program across the nation.”
Clinical Research Pathways chose Morehouse School of Medicine to launch the program, according to Speers, because of the school’s reputation as a leader in advancing health equity and as a trusted community partner. The MSM Community Physicians’ Network, of which Dr. Pemu serves as medical director, for example, includes 133 physicians working to eliminate health care disparities. This network serves over 460,000 patients with practices that serve at least 30 percent of minority individuals.
About Morehouse School of Medicine:
Founded in 1975, Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) is among the nation’s leading educators of primary care physicians, biomedical scientists and public health professionals. In 2011, MSM was recognized by Annals of Internal Medicine as the nation’s No. 1 medical school in fulfilling a social mission. MSM faculty and alumni are noted for excellence in teaching, research and public policy, as well as exceptional patient care.
Morehouse School of Medicine is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award doctoral and master’s degrees. To learn more about programs and donate today, please visit www.msm.edu or call 404-752-1500.
About Clinical Research Pathways:
Clinical Research Pathways works to improve health and well-being for all by creating pathways to new medicines. The 501(c)(3) organization develops programs that increase diversity in research and expand access to experimental drugs. By opening access and advancing treatments, Clinical Research Pathways helps make new, effective medicines available to the public. For more information, go to www.clinicalresearchpathways.org.