Thursday, March 25, 2010

UC Davis aims to increase minority recruitment in Clinical Trials

UC Davis aims to increase minority recruitment
Wednesday, March 24, 2010 -

Rocklin & Roseville Today


(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) - In its ongoing commitment to reduce the cancer burden on underserved groups, UC Davis Cancer Center will help lead a national effort to increase minority recruitment in cancer clinical trials.

As part of a major grant from the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, UC Davis will lead the western region in a five-center effort to assess existing approaches to minority clinical-trials accrual and then to develop models that can be used by other cancer centers nationwide.

The $3.8 million, 18-month grant by the National Institutes of Health, authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will be announced March 25 at a special event at the U.S. Capitol, with representatives from the National Institutes of Health, American Cancer Society and U.S. Congress. The initiative will be led by the University of Minnesota's Masonic Cancer Center. In addition to UC Davis, other regional partners are Johns Hopkins University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and University of Texas M.D. Anderson.

Entitled EMPaCT (Enabling Minority Participation in Clinical Trials), the project will address the relative lack of minority representation in clinical trials for new therapies to treat cancer. For their part, UC Davis researchers plan to engage the UC Davis Clinical and Translational Science Center, which helps train medical and graduate students, as well as clinical-trials researchers from outside the institution.

"We are committed to reducing cancer health disparities and to increasing minority participation in clinical trials," said UC Davis Cancer Center Director Ralph deVere White. "And we are committed to working with the very best in the country to find both short-term and long-term answers."

Moon Chen, professor in the UC Davis Division of Hematology and Oncology, and EMPaCT regional principal investigator, explained that only when minorities take part in clinical trials can researchers find the best therapies for those patients.

"If we want to achieve the goal of customized therapy, we need to know a lot about how people are different, so we can tailor therapy to the individual's specific genetic metabolic makeup," he said.

Working cooperatively, the five cancer centers have formed an executive committee that will assess existing efforts to accrue minorities into trials and determine ways to improve them.

Chen, who also is associate director of Population Research & Cancer Disparities at UC Davis, said that some of the challenges for cancer physicians are language and cultural barriers, which, studies have shown, can perpetuate the misperception that participation in a clinical trial is coercive, punitive or dangerously uncertain for the patient.

Research at UC Davis has found that mass-media campaigns and use of the Internet do little to influence a patient's decision about whether to join a clinical trial. Chen said assessment work for EMPaCT at UC Davis will focus more on the role of the physicians, research nurses and others in the accrual process.

Debora Paterniti, associate adjunct professor in internal medicine and sociology, will determine barriers to accrual and ways to mitigate those barriers so that accrual rates of minorities and others go up. She plans to develop and distribute physician questionnaires and to shadow physicians as they communicate with patients and other physicians about clinical-trials enrollment.

Once all of the participating cancer centers have completed their assessments, cancer center leaders will share their findings and recommendations and develop consensus on several evidence-based accrual models that can be used by other cancer centers nationwide.

About National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities
A component of the National Institutes of Health, the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities promotes minority health and leads, coordinates, supports and assesses the efforts to eliminate health disparities. The center's programs focus on expanding the nation's ability to conduct research and to build a diverse culturally-competent research workforce to eliminate health disparities. The National Institutes of Health — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about the NIH and its programs, visit

UC Davis Cancer Center is a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center that cares for 9,000 adults and children with cancer each year from throughout the Central Valley and inland Northern California. Its Outreach Research and Education Program works to eliminate ethnic disparities in cancer region-wide.

For more information, visit

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