Life Sciences Insight

Abbott, Women as One set up diversity-focused training program​​​

Involving a broader cross section of physicians in trials would aid efforts to recruit people from underrepresented groups, say Abbott and Women as One, which have launched a training program with this in mind.

The program—known as Climb Research—will aim to train more female physicians, as well as those from currently underrepresented groups, to pursue clinical trial research and help recruit clinical trial participants.

“The goal is to expand access and train more women and underrepresented physicians so that they are prepared to participate as investigators in clinical trials offered by a broad range of sponsors and CROs,” Women as One founder Dr. Roxana Mehran told Fierce Biotech.

The training will consist of a six-month virtual program of monthly 90-minute Zoom webinars. Each session will be moderated by a subject area expert and will involve additional guest faculty to discuss specific topics, Mehran said. 

“We believe the small learning groups, led by world experts is the difference,” she said. “The CLIMB program also spans six months, giving ample opportunities for learning, case study review and advancement.”

The program is exclusively supported by a grant from Abbott, whose divisional vice president of global clinical affairs, Jennifer Jones-McMeans, told us it is in keeping with wider efforts to increase diversity in clinical research.

“As an industry, we must continue to break down barriers to participation in clinical trials and join the FDA in urging others to take action,” Jones-McMeans said. 

She cited the US FDA’s recent guidance calling on sponsors to submit a race and ethnic diversity recruiting plan when seeking approval to conduct a trial as an example.

“The guidance was a logical addition to the compendium of FDA’s past guidance to enhance diversity in clinical trials. It was also a great addition to the FDA’s focus on ensuring that the evaluation of new therapies become more equitable in the inclusion of woman and people of colour,” she said. “The FDA has long encouraged more participation from underrepresented groups both at the investigator and patient levels. As such, the recent guidance was not a direct prompt but certainly resonated as an important reason why programs like Climb are needed.”