Community, Connections, and Intersections

Susan P. Landis

Clinical Researcher—June 2022 (Volume 36, Issue 3)


Susan P. Landis, Executive Director of ACRP


As this issue goes online, it has already been nearly two months since many of you flocked to Orlando to join in on all the goodness that was our ACRP 2022 gathering. If you were fortunate to attend in person or viewed the highlights on our website, you most likely can tell it was a successful conference—and fun! More than 1,000 clinical researchers convened to listen and learn from more than 80 speakers delivering nearly 60 sessions and three pre-conference workshops. Our sponsors were numerous, our social networks were buzzing, and the spirits onsite were high as our amazing community of clinical researchers reconnected live and face-to-face for the first time in three years. What a blast!

ACRP’s community showed up big time in May, too. In celebration of Clinical Trials Day on May 20 (an event with which more than 124,000 clinical researchers around the world engaged in through our robust clinical research social media network), you helped to raise nearly $64,000 as part of the latest ACRP Ride for Diversity. The ride was a six-day, 334-mile bicycle trek from Pittsburgh, Pa. to Alexandria, Va., ending on Clinical Trials Day and led by Association Board of Trustees Member Sergio Armani, from Advarra, and Velocity’s Rick Fisher. We had strong financial support for the ride from many individuals and major corporate backers this year, including Elligo Health, Medrio, Meridian, Pfizer, and Velocity. In this second year for the event, we raised the bar and reaped rewards that will allow ACRP to fund scholarships for education in clinical research and to support the efforts of our Diversity Advisory Council. Thank you!

But Wait, There’s More…

Whether in person or through virtual means, ACRP is committed to recognizing and celebrating what we know is a rich and diverse community of clinical researchers. This year, we have already hosted campaigns that celebrated Latinx heritage, highlighted voices from ACRP’s Black members, and honored Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

This month, for the first time, we are recognizing our LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month. A Gallup poll recently revealed that a record number of U.S. adults self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or other than heterosexual. This figure doubled from 2012. Twenty-one percent of Gen Zers—or Zoomers—who now have reached adulthood, self-identify as LGBTQ. Why should we care? Because this next generation is both a part of our community of clinical researchers and a part of our population that needs to be reflected in clinical trials and studies. As we considered what to include in our Pride Month campaign, I found it helpful to ask, “What do we need to know?” As the answers came in, I learned something, and I hope you will, too—learn more here.

Nowhere are community, connections, and intersections more important than they are in terms of improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in clinical trials. Along with many organizations in our industry, members of ACRP’s Content Committee responded to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s new draft guidance on improving enrollment of participants from underrepresented racial and ethnic populations in clinical trials. The focus of the guidance is to encourage sponsors to develop race and ethnicity diversity plans early in a trial or study’s development. Good, but a lot more needs to be done.

Meanwhile, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a comprehensive report for improving representation in clinical research. The conclusions can be read here. They go beyond encouraging sponsors to have a plan to document critical recommendations, such as by investing in building trust with underrepresented and excluded communities, recommending medical journals and publications require information on representation in trials for submissions, incentivizing community providers to enroll and retain participants, and developing explicit guidance for providing equitable compensation to clinical research participants and their families.

Getting to the Bottom Line

Recommendations and guidances are important, but we know—you know—that recognizing people who participate in clinical research, be it as a researcher or a patient, begins within your own community. Thank you for being a part of our efforts to strive to recognize you and your colleagues equally. In turn, we encourage you to take steps at your study site, site management organization, academic institution, contract research organization, patient advocacy group, clinical trials technology vendor organization, sponsor organization, or wherever you are in the clinical research enterprise to develop and drive initiatives that will improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in your community for the benefit of all.

As always, my heart-felt thanks to you for being a member of ACRP and for supporting our collective efforts to ensure excellence in clinical research.