Duke CTSI, Duke University School of Medicine, and Duke University Health System together have launched a new initiative aimed at achieving equitable representation in clinical research.
The initiative, “Changing the Face of Clinical Research at Duke Through Community Outreach and Engagement,” is supported by a $2.65 million grant to the School of Medicine from The Duke Endowment. The funding will be used to support community engagement programs and practices aimed at addressing barriers to research participation, increasing diversity in clinical research, building community trust, and reducing health disparities.
“Duke University School of Medicine has one of the largest clinical research portfolios in the country, with more than 1,200 clinical investigators,” says Susanna Naggie, MD, MHS, Associate Professor of Medicine and Vice Dean for Clinical Research for the school. “It’s critical to ensure that clinical research results are broadly applicable for all members of our community. Yet nationwide, large, randomized trials heavily enroll non-Hispanic, white participants, even as other under-represented groups shoulder a heavier burden of disease.”
The community will play a central role in shaping and leading the work of this initiative. A key project is to develop a Community Based Research Network (CBRN), which will engage community-based clinics, primary care organizations, and Durham Regional and Duke Raleigh hospitals. The network will be used to solicit feedback on major barriers to achieving equitable health outcomes and to facilitate increased diverse participation in clinical research.
“Community partners have been at the heart of this project’s development from the beginning,” says L. Ebony Boulware, MD, MPH, Director of Duke CTSI and Vice Dean for Translational Sciences for the School of Medicine. “We could not have secured this grant without our partners, and they will continue to drive its success going forward.”
Duke has already begun efforts to increase community participation in research studies. In October 2020, Duke University School of Medicine opened a clinical research center in the Durham community to address the urgent need for COVID-19 clinical research space. This is the only Duke facility entirely dedicated to clinical research, with a diverse, bilingual staff. This new grant allows us to grow the clinical research portfolio across a breadth of clinical research needs, develop a strong community engagement and partnership culture, and to become a self-sustaining research unit for years to come.
“Duke is committed to being an equitable and trustworthy partner in both the delivery of care and in research,” says Nadine J. Barrett, PhD, Assistant Professor Department of Community and Family Medicine; Associate Director of Equity, Community Engagement, and Stakeholder Strategy for the Duke Cancer Institute; and Director of the Center for Equity in Research, Duke CTSI. “The perspectives, expertise, and partnerships with our community are critical to improving the health of those who are underserved in healthcare and underrepresented in research.
We look forward to continuing our work together.”
Duke plans to convene a Community Advisory Council to provide insights, guidance, and to co-develop outreach efforts to reach diverse populations in the region. Partners such as North Carolina Central University, LATIN-19, the African American COVID Taskforce Plus (AACT+), faith leadership networks, and others representing perspectives, experiences, and knowledge from across Durham and surrounding counties will be engaged in planning high-impact outreach activities.
This initiative’s leadership team is as diverse and ambitious as the project itself. Naggie will serve as Principal Investigator alongside an interdisciplinary group of experts in clinical science and community-engaged research. In addition to Drs. Boulware and Barrett, the team includes:
- Keisha Bentley-Edwards, PhD, Co-director of Duke CTSI’s Equity in Research and Special Populations Cores
- Ranee Chatterjee Montgomery, Associate Professor of Medicine and Co-director of Duke CTSI’s Research Networks and Recruitment Innovation Center
- Rowena Dolor, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Primary Care Research Consortium
- Steve Grambow, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biostatistics & Bioinformatics and Director of Duke CTSI’s Workforce Development Core
- Michelle Lyn, MBA, MHA, Assistant Professor in Family Medicine and Community Health and Co-director of the Center for Community and Population Health Improvement
- Joe McClernon, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Director of Duke CTSI’s Evaluation and Strategic Planning Core
- Mina Silberberg, PhD, Associate Professor in Family Medicine and Community Health and Director of Duke CTSI’s Community-Engaged Research Initiative
- Denise Snyder, MS, RD, Associate Dean for Clinical Research and Operational Lead of the CTSI’s Participant and Clinical Interactions Core
Based in Charlotte and established in 1924 by industrialist and philanthropist James B. Duke, The Duke Endowment is a private foundation that strengthens communities in North Carolina and South Carolina by nurturing children, promoting health, educating minds, and enriching spirits. Since its founding, it has distributed more than $4 billion in grants. The Endowment shares a name with Duke University and Duke Energy, but all are separate organizations. For more information, go to https://dukeendowment.org/.