Clinical Research Pathways, WellStar Health System partner to increase diversity in oncology research

Clinical Research Pathways is partnering with WellStar Health System to increase diversity in oncology research to help ensure that new cancer medicines are effective for patients of all races and ethnicities.

The two organizations—nonprofit focused on creating pathways to new medicines and treatments, and one of Georgia's largest health systems—will develop strategies to enroll more minority patients in oncology trials. The organizations also will work to strengthen the minority clinical investigator workforce, which plays an essential role in patient recruitment.

Clinical Research Pathways has awarded a $20,000 grant to WellStar to support these efforts.

WellStar is well-positioned to be a strategic partner in oncology research with Clinical Research Pathways. The health system has a significant geographic footprint in Georgia, a diverse patient base and a strong commitment to inclusion at all levels.

We are confident that, together, WellStar and Clinical Research Pathways can increase minority patient participation in oncology clinical trials and, ultimately, develop a national model for others to replicate.

Marjorie A. Speers, executive director of Clinical Research Pathways

WellStar is the second Georgia organization to team up with Clinical Research Pathways on increasing diversity in clinical trials. With Morehouse School of Medicine, in 2018 Clinical Research Pathways launched its signature initiative, Training Minority Clinical Teams: Getting New Quality Medicines to All Americans.

The three-year program trains and mentors minority physicians to conduct clinical trials and enroll minority patients, as appropriate. Studies show this approach to recruitment has a better chance of success because patients are more likely to participate in clinical trials if asked by a trusted healthcare provider.

To date, the program has recruited physicians who treat heart disease, diabetes, sleep disorders, chronic pediatric conditions and neurological disorders, including Parkinson's disease.

"Historically, minority patients have been underrepresented in clinical trials of investigational products to treat these diseases," Speers said. "As a result, we often don't have sufficient data on how well newly approved medicines work for nonwhite patients.

"By increasing minority representation in clinical trials, we can—and will—improve the efficacy of new medicines for all patients, regardless of age, gender, race or ethnicity," she added.

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