Training Minority Clinical Trial Investigators

One important variable in increasing the diversity of clinical trials is increasing the diversity of the physicians who conduct the trials (called “investigators”). Minority physicians are more likely to care for minority and non-English speaking patients.

Unfortunately, the proportion of African American and Hispanic physicians has not kept pace with population growth for these minority groups. Not only does this contribute to inequalities in health and health care overall, but it can also affect enrollment in clinical trials when a lack of diversity among the physicians conducting the trials exists. When there is less minority representation among physicians in certain specialties, it makes it even more difficult for us to increase the diversity of our investigators.

To help address this issue, we partner with The Center for Drug Development and Clinical Trials at Roswell Park Cancer Institute to conduct workshops that train minority physicians to become clinical trial investigators. Our hope is that by increasing minority physicians’ participation, we will be able to increase the diversity of clinical trial participants and improve clinical research.

The workshops, titled “Reducing Cancer Disparities through the Training of a Diverse Workforce,” are offered to oncologists from minority groups. These training programs, the first of their kind in the pharmaceutical industry, aspire to develop a broader base of diverse investigators who understand the principles of good clinical trial design and have the tools to conduct trials that are relevant to underrepresented populations.

Based on the success of the U.S.-based investigator training program, we’re also considering how we can replicate it in emerging markets to involve more local physicians in the studies taking place in those countries. As we look to expand our clinical trials more broadly in these regions, we’re carefully considering important ethical questions related to post-trial care and availability of medications before choosing clinical trial sites.