Diversity Will Broaden Clinical Trial Workforce

Laurie Halloran, BSN, MS, CCRA, President & CEO, Halloran Consulting Group

Welcoming more people of color into the clinical trial workforce will have a number of benefits, says Laurie Halloran, BSN, MS, CCRA, president and CEO of Halloran Consulting Group, not the least of which will be to “bring a legitimacy to clinical research it doesn’t currently have [when] the patient population we’re studying needs to be [more] diverse.”

Halloran is doing more than just talking about the issue and raising awareness. She’s been active in and around her home turf of Boston to try and educate students and others about clinical trials as a career. She’ll describe some of those efforts in an upcoming session for the Virtual ACRP 2020 conference with Manny Lazaro, MS, vice president and head of clinical operations for Jounce Therapeutics.

Halloran and team have had success banding with others in Massachusetts, she says, including Project Onramp, which is helping oversee an internship program fueled by four leading life science organizations—MassBio, MassBioEd, Massachusetts Life Science Center, and Life Science Cares. The program connects passionate, high-achieving, four-year college students with paid internships of up to 12 weeks. Across the state, leading companies will collectively be reserving a minimum of 75 internship slots for Project Onramp’s new Life Sciences Scholars Program.

“We will leverage our efforts” with Project Onramp and benefit from access to their pool of candidates, Halloran notes. Her early efforts with Project Onramp illustrated some of the educational hurdles faced by the clinical trial industry. “They had never heard of clinical research and were thinking more in terms of lab science and med tech” internship opportunities, she says.

While Halloran calls herself an optimist, she’s the first to agree there’s no “magic bullet” solution to the clinical trial workforce diversity challenge. “It’s going to require a multidisciplinary effort,” she says. “We’re making some progress, but we have a long way to go.”

Author: Michael Causey