CCTS Integrating Special Populations Program

Changing the Color of Clinical Research

Scientists are increasingly acknowledging the lack of representation of underserved populations in clinical trials. By not addressing diversity in research, it is difficult to understand the effects of treatment in all races and ethnicities and it also hinders the unbiased analysis of study results. Most importantly, lack of diversity in clinical trials reduces the safety of consumers when a treatment makes it to the bedside.

Recent studies show that the United States will become a “minority white” nation by 2045. According to this research, Caucasians will comprise 49.7% of the population in contrast to 24.6 % for Hispanics, 13.1 % for African Americans, 7.9 % for Asians, and 3.8 % for multiracial populations. These data bring to light the urgency to invest in building tools and resources that enhance diverse representation and promote inclusion in clinical trials. Inclusive research will result in study populations that reflect all ethnicities, allowing for the development of safe and effective drugs, vaccines, and devices for all. As investigators think about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in their studies, they are discovering gaps in knowledge and skills that prevent them from connecting, recruiting, and collaborating across various cultural, ethnic and social groups. 

"We need representation of all populations in research to provide everyone the best medical care possible,” says Cynthia Gerhardt, PhD.

This is where the CCTS Integrating Special Populations (ISP) Program can help. ISP is dedicated to helping investigators be more inclusive in their clinical and translational research to ensure representation that reflects the communities in which we live. ISP recognizes that there are challenges and limitations to conducting inclusive research, and the CCTS is committed to helping investigators overcome the existing barriers to achieve diversity. 

“Through the ISP Program, our goal is to better address the needs of underrepresented populations so that we can rebuild their trust in medicine,” says William E. Smoyer, M.D.

ISP supports the Executive Committee on Lifespan Research (ECLR), a consultation service developed to educate and support faculty and trainees in the optimal conduct of clinical and translational research involving underrepresented populations. 

ISP also collaborates with other CCTS programs to develop and disseminate practical approaches to help our researchers. In collaboration with Community Engagement at CCTS, ISP funds pilot grant applications that encourage partnerships between researchers and community stakeholders to develop methodologies and research designs that can increase DEI in clinical research

Learn More