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Improving health through research and community partnerships

Part of Duke CTSI and funded by The Duke Endowment, the Research Equity and Diversity Initiative (READI) seeks to improve the health of our communities and advance health equity by making it easier for community members and researchers to collaborate on health research that is important and relevant to our community.

READI’s community-based approach to health research relies on the guidance and advice of our Community Advisory Council, made up of study participants, healthcare providers, patients, and community and faith leaders. Through this essential collaboration, we are working together to ensure trustworthiness in research and increase broad representation in research participation and the research workforce.

Broad representation in clinical research means better health for all of us. Are you ready?

When all types of people are represented in clinical trials and studies, everyone benefits from new discoveries. And when Duke researchers and community members work together, they can achieve amazing things.

For Researchers:

For Community Members:

The mission of the Research Equity and Diversity Initiative (READI) is to help improve community health by making it easier for researchers and community members to collaborate on research that will improve health. READI works to build trust and increase representation in research participation and the research workforce.

With broad participation, we can work together to reduce and eliminate health disparities.

Learn more about READI and how you can help support equity and diversity in research!

Email: | Call: 919-681-5698

Frequently Asked Questions

Clinical research is how we find new ways to improve health and fight disease. There are many types of trials, studies, and projects that fall under clinical research, but the goal of all of these is to increase our knowledge of how to prevent, detect, and treat disease.

Anyone can participate in clinical research, either as a patient with a diagnosed condition or as a healthy volunteer.

Historically, certain populations have been excluded from clinical research, which can mean that new discoveries benefit some groups more than others. For example, certain medications cause different responses in different populations—what can cure one person could be harmful to another. When researchers study diverse populations, they can identify these differences, making health discoveries safer and more effective.

In 2018, the FDA reported that Whites, despite making up only 67% of the US population, comprised 83% of research participants. Meanwhile, Blacks/African Americans make up 13% of the population but account for only 5% of participants, and Hispanic/Latino people, 18% of the population, made up just 1% of participants.

There are many reasons for these imbalances, but one important factor is medical mistrust caused by historic abuses and atrocities. Among the most notorious cases of abuse in research is the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. Today, clinical research is governed by strict ethical standards, but much work remains to build trust with communities.

The CDC defines health disparities "as preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or in opportunities to achieve optimal health experienced by socially disadvantaged racial, ethnic, and other population groups, and communities."

Health disparities are driven by the environments that people live, work, and play in—a concept known as the social determinants of health. These can include income, housing, access to education and job opportunities, access to health care, exposure to racism or other forms of discrimination, and many other factors.

By increasing accessibility of clinical research, READI aims to be a part of reducing and eliminating health disparities in our communities.