In an effort to increase the number of minority investigators in clinical research, Eli Lilly and Company and The Center for Drug Development and Clinical Trials at Roswell Park Cancer Institute(RPCI) earlier today announced a new first-of-its-kind collaborative training program specifically tailored to this growing group of investigators.

The partnership will include a three-day clinical research workshop, Reducing Cancer Disparities Through the Training of a Diverse Workforce, for minority physicians across the country. The unique workshops will begin in spring 2014 and will run through 2016.

…approximately 1 to 2% of active, practicing oncologists [in the US] are African American and approximately 2 to 3% are Hispanic…

Unmet need
There are approximately 10,400 oncologists in the United States, but approximately 1 to 2% of active, practicing oncologists are African American and approximately 2 to 3% are Hispanic. A remarkable added statistic is the poor representation of minorities in clinical trials in the entire industry, even for diseases from which minorities suffer disproportionately. To help change this, the goal of the new initiative is to train 75 to 150 oncologists in the conduct of clinical trials.

Commenting on the unique partnership, workshop director Alex A. Adjei, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.P., (Photo 1) senior vice president for clinical research and director of the Center for Drug Development at Roswell Park said: “Providing patients with access to new and innovative therapies is one of the most crucial issues in oncology.” He added: “But we can’t provide that access fairly and uniformly unless we make sure investigators are informed about existing clinical trials and trained in how to run their own research studies.”

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Reaching diverse populations
“Because medicines don’t work the same for everyone, we need to understand how medicines work and the safety profile in patients likely to take them. By training more oncology minority investigators, our goal is to reach even more diverse populations,” said Coleman Obasaju, M.D., Ph.D., (Photo 2) senior medical director at Lilly Oncology and global leader of diversity in clinical research.

The goal of this unique partnership is to enhancing clinical research in minority and underserved populations through development of a cadre of well-trained minority investigators. The program’s initiators also aim to educating participants about the principles of good clinical trial design and providing the necessary tools required to conduct trials that are relevant to minorities and under-represented populations.

Identifying challenges
Furthermore, guiding the program is designed to help participants to identify various challenges of clinical research, particularly in minority and underserved populations, and providing advice and education on how to overcome these challenges.

As part of the workshop, the initiators want to providing ongoing mentorship to young minority investigators through career-long relationships with workshop faculty. They also hope to reducing cancer health disparities through increased clinical research targeting minority and underserved populations.

The organizers are targeting minority physicians and senior fellows who have cancer-related sub-specialties in medical, hematologic, radiation, pediatric, surgical and gynecologic oncology. Faculty in the first five years of their academic appointments and those working full-time at an academic institution or practice with a track record of enrolling patients in cancer clinical trials may apply to participate in the workshop.

?We continue to demonstrate our commitment to diversity. It?s about solutions. By training more oncology minority investigators, we will be able to reach even more populations we haven?t before,? Obasaju emphasized.

Enrollment for the 2014 workshop will begin this fall, with details about the application process to be posted on both the Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) and Eli Lilly websites.

Photo 1:Alex A. Adjei, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.P., senior vice president for clinical research and director of theCenter for Drug DevelopmentatRoswell Park. Photo 2:Coleman Obasaju, M.D., Ph.D., senior medical director at Lilly Oncology. Photo courtesy:Eli Lilly and CompanyandThe Center for Drug Development and Clinical Trials at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI).

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