Morehouse School of Medicine wants inclusion of diversity into clinical trials

ATLANTA — There’s a new effort to try to get more diversity in research and clinical trials.

This week, Morehouse School of Medicine joined a $10 million dollar, Pharma sponsored, initiative called Equitable Breakthroughs in Medicine Development.

Channel 2′s Audrey Washington was at the school in southwest Atlanta, where doctors said that some minorities are simply never asked to participate in trials, or some groups may be reluctant, especially when they think about the Tuskegee experiment.

Doctors said that when Black and Brown people are not included in trials, it causes a huge disparity in research.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

When Melissa Waller’s health issued didn’t go away after she recovered from COVID-19, she knew something was wrong.


“My neurologist actually recommended the research study to me,” Waller said.

Waller is a part of the small percentage of Black people involved in a clinical trial, which is a statistic that The Morehouse School of Medicine wants to change.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, out of the more than 32,000 people who participated in drug trials in 2020, 75% were White, 11% were Hispanic, 8% were Black and just 6% were Asian.

Dr. Priscilla Pemu with The Morehouse School of Medicine said the goal of the initiative is to bring diversity to clinical trials.

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]

“Bring in people who look like us to participate in studies,” Pemu said. “It can be vaccine trials. It can be trials for diabetes. Whatever kind of health issue.

The coronavirus revealed lesser-known diversity issues. For example: The pulse oximeter, a tool that clips onto the finger and tracks oxygen levels in COVID-19 patients can be inaccurate when measuring oxygen levels in patients with darker skin tones

“It works based on the refraction of light and color impacts refraction of light,” Pemu said.

Pemu said the group will next form trials in minority communities.

Waller said the initiative is a big step forward for minority health.

“[It’s] inclusive and equitable and can tell a true story about who we are and how various medications impact us,” Waller said.

For more information about the clinical trials, click HERE.