PRINCETON, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation and National Medical Fellowships today announced that they have entered into a partnership aimed at improving diversity in clinical trials. Leveraging $100 million of the previously announced commitment from Bristol Myers Squibb and the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation to diversity and inclusion, the partnership will develop a program to extend the reach of clinical trials into underserved patient populations in urban and rural U.S. communities. This program will train and develop 250 new clinical investigators who are racially and ethnically diverse or who have a demonstrated commitment to increasing diversity in clinical trials, and it will expose 250 promising, underrepresented minority medical students across the country to clinical research career pathways. Additionally, the program will assist program investigators in building capacity and standing up new clinical trials sites in communities with diverse and heavily burdened patient populations.
The need for diversity in clinical trials
“Clinical research is necessary to generate evidence demonstrating the efficacy and safety of new treatments,” said Robert Winn, M.D., Director, Massey Cancer Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, who is serving as chair of the national advisory committee of the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation Diversity in Clinical Trials Career Development Program. “While the patient response to medical therapies may differ across racial and ethnic subgroups, clinical trials often fail to represent the demographic diversity of the populations that these products aim to serve. I am proud to serve as an advisor to this program, which will support improvements toward diverse representation in clinical research and promote health equity.”
In fact, aggregated data on the racial and ethnic participation in clinical trials published by the FDA show that in general 80% of patients taking part in clinical trials are white. Black Americans represent 13%1 of the US population but only reflect about 7%2 of participants in clinical trials.
John Damonti, president of the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation added, “Science demonstrates that we must diversify clinical trials in order to improve health outcomes and advance health equity. We are pleased to partner with National Medical Fellowships so that this effort will benefit from their decades of experience and unmatched expertise. Together, we will tap the often overlooked but powerful resource of racially and ethnically diverse physicians or other physicians who have a demonstrated commitment to increasing diversity in clinical trials, working in academic medical centers, community-based practices and Federally Qualified Health Centers. These physicians are established in their communities, and no one is in a better position to build trusting relationships with patients than they are.”
“Diversity has a role to play in the entire lifecycle of therapeutic development, from the trial design and community engagement, to therapeutic efficacy and adoption,” said Sandra Nichols, M.D., Chairperson, National Medical Fellowships Board of Directors. “National Medical Fellowships has a vision to promote equity of access to quality healthcare for all groups in American society. Advancing diversity in clinical trials is a critically important component of this effort, and our partnership with the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation is consistent with our mission.”
About the program
The goal of the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation Diversity in Clinical Trials Career Development Program is to increase diversity of patients enrolled in clinical trials, and ultimately enhance the development of therapeutics for all populations. The program will collaborate with communities to facilitate an approach to clinical and translational research that is community-informed, designed and conducted. It will provide the sponsorship, support and tools that emerging investigators need to conduct clinical trials that will yield the development of new treatments that are effective in all populations.
How to apply
Applications will open in January 2021. Eligible candidates will hold the degree of MD, MD/PhD, DO or DO/PhD and have an interest in clinical research in the areas of cancer (hematology and oncology), cardiovascular disease and immunologic disorders. In addition, they will reflect the NIH definition of Early Stage Investigator and the NIH definition of underrepresented populations in the U.S. Biomedical, Clinical Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Enterprise, or have a demonstrated commitment to increasing diversity in clinical trials. To learn more about eligibility and program details, please email DCTCDPinfo@nmfonline.org.
About the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation
The Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation is committed to improving the health outcomes of populations disproportionately affected by serious diseases by strengthening healthcare worker capacity, integrating medical care and community-based supportive services, and addressing unmet medical need.
National Medical Fellowships
Seeking to empower and support aspiring physicians and health professionals underrepresented in medicine to contribute to the health of our nation, National Medical Fellowships’ mission is to provide scholarships and support for underrepresented minority students in medicine and the health professions.
Founded in 1946, NMF was one of America’s first diversity organizations. Today, as we come together to celebrate our diversity with joy and new purpose, NMF remains the only national organization solely dedicated to providing scholarships to medical and health professions students in all groups underrepresented in healthcare.
NMF is supported by a national network of Alumni who serve tens of millions of patients annually. Their experience inspires us and gives voice to our mission.