Douglas Bryant: An Appreciation

Michael Causey, ACRP Editor-In-Chief

Michael Causey, ACRP Editor-In-Chief

Douglas Bryant loved life. You could hear it in his voice. Douglas Bryant loved helping people. You could see it in his actions.

I had the good fortune to work closely with Douglas for the past year when, as part of his volunteer contributions as the Public Member of ACRP’s Board of Trustees, he joined the Association’s efforts to improve diversity in clinical trials. We spoke every few weeks, sometimes more frequently, as he reported on his plans to meet with local groups. He was excited about touring the country with ACRP Executive Director Jim Kremidas to take that message to as many people as possible. And, despite being shy and humble about it, Douglas asked if he could write about his personal quest in ACRP’s publications.

That’s where I got the chance to get to know Douglas. He was funny. He was enthusiastic. He wanted to use his platform to help others. To make clinical trials more effective. To improve healthcare for everyone.

We had plans. Douglas was going to write a series of columns. He was going to help others better understand there were glaring weaknesses in some clinical trials because they lacked the kind of diversity crucial to producing the most valid data possible. He wanted to write about his interactions with people in the field. As an African American, he also wanted to do what he could to erase some of the most egregious clinical trial abuses of the past, such as the deplorable Tuskegee studies finally exposed and stopped in the 1970s.

Douglas knew today’s clinical trial industry was vastly different, vastly better than that. He wanted to encourage all ethnic groups to get involved.

We highlighted Douglas’ first blog entry on such topics in last week’s CRbeat. I’d half-joked with Douglas that we’d make him famous by making him the lead story. Then Donald Trump won the Presidency and Managing Editor Gary Cramer and I decided we had to lead with two pieces offering analysis on what a Trump presidency might mean for the clinical trial industry. Douglas understood. I told him we’d lead with him next time. After all, there would be plenty of other opportunities.

When Douglas passed away on November 13, we lost those opportunities. We lost a generous, warm, and intelligent man who inspired those around him to work just a little harder. To care just a little more.

Douglas and I won’t get the chance to work together now. However, ACRP will continue to do its part to improve diversity in clinical trials. I have notes of some conversations with Douglas that will make their way into some of our future outreach. In ways neither of us imagined, he will continue to play an important role in this work.

When we lost Douglas Bryant, we lost his intellectual and emotional support. We didn’t lose his example. We didn’t lose his work. And, if we are very, very lucky, we won’t lose the memory of a kind, intelligent man who was doing his part to make the world a better place.

Author: Michael Causey