ACRP Collaborates with Merck to Address Clinical Research Industry Workforce Needs

Photograph of Susan Landis

ACRP to provide educational training in support of building a diverse and research-ready workforce

In a move to both strengthen and diversify the clinical research workforce, the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) today announced a collaboration with Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, to provide access to training for clinical research sites located in historically underrepresented communities and for students interested in the clinical research profession.

The collaboration is designed to empower local communities through direct engagement with high schools and community colleges, and through support of clinical research sites.

“Protocol requirements are not the only path to ensuring diversity in clinical trials,” said Susan Landis, ACRP executive director. “Participants want to see themselves reflected in the make-up of the clinical study team. ACRP is excited to collaborate with industry stakeholders like Merck to unite our training with targeted initiatives that take direct action to develop a diverse, research-ready workforce and to help to address the global workforce issue.”

“We strive to conduct clinical trials that enroll participants that appropriately reflect the wide diversity of patients we serve,” said Jennifer Sheller, Associate Vice President, Global Clinical Trial Operations. “We are deeply committed to improving the diversity of clinical trial participants and are employing a multi-faceted approach, which includes providing access to training for clinical research sites serving underrepresented populations and for students in these communities interested in pursuing a career in clinical research.”

Merck will introduce two new programs, both supported with training from ACRP.

Diversity & Inclusion in Clinical Trials (DICT). This program helps support U.S. clinical trial sites located in underrepresented communities and prioritizing DICT, with training for Clinical Research Coordinators (CRC). Clinical trials can only be conducted with qualified sites, and appropriately trained CRCs are a critical component of a site’s study team. ACRP will provide its CRC Foundations Core Competency Training and Clinical Research Knowledge Assessment™ as a certificate of completion.

Supporting Students in Clinical Research. This program aims to facilitate the recruitment of 50 students from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds currently attending community colleges and high schools in select urban areas across the U.S. to ACRP’s Early Talent Training Program™ next year. The training is a first of its kind, comprehensive curriculum that prepares interested candidates and lateral movers for the clinical research profession.

In addition to this initiative, Merck is a member of ACRP’s Partners Advancing the Clinical Research Workforce, a multi-stakeholder consortium supported by sponsors, CROs, investigator sites, academic institutions, and regulatory agencies.  The Partners group recently published a whitepaper outlining barriers to developing and advancing a diverse, research-ready clinical research workforce.