The National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing health disparities in the country, unveiled the new National Clinical Trials Atlas recently. The atlas will further assist the NMQF in improving physician and patient diversity.

The CT Atlas is the nation’s first database that maps health statistics and clinical trial sites down to the zip code, metropolitan statistical area, county, state and federal legislative district. The atlas also allows researchers to identify where gaps in minority enrollment in clinical trials exist, based on disease prevalence and population demographics.

“There’s a lot of variability in human populations and there’s a need to understand what medications work best in terms of clinical effectiveness and safety in various populations,” said Dr. Gary Puckrein, president and chief executive officer of the NMQF. “We really don’t have the science right now to do that, so what the database is doing is taking the first step by identifying around the country where clinical trials are conducted.”

According to Puckrein, between 25 percent and 30 percent of all the clinical trials in the United States happen in minority communities but are not included in the grand total of trials.

“These institutions that are conducting clinical trials around the country are not networking and talking to each other, they’re just isolated dots on the map,” Puckrein said. “What we want to do is connect those dots and create a network where the people who are conducting the trials are speaking to each other and we are connecting them to registries where we can recruit diverse populations.”

The atlas is part of a larger effort headed by the NMQF to create a permanent national clinical trial network that facilitates the recruitment of diverse populations, while still maintaining efficiency in the clinical trial process.

Ultimately, Puckrein hopes the NMQF can bring about an innovative system measuring the overall status of health in the nation.

“We want to be the index to measure what’s happening to the U.S. population, health wise, as close to real-time as possible,” Puckrein said. “So, in the way that the Dow Jones measures the movement of the economy, we want to do that for health. We want to be able to say, ‘Here is the health status of the American population’ and how it’s changed and improved. I think that’s where we’re headed.”


Gregory Dale

AFRO News Editor