Dr. Elizabeth Ofili (left), of the Morehouse School of Medicine, speaks with Sheila Thorne, president and CEO of Multicultural Healthcare Marketing Group, about Amgen’s African American Heart Study. Dr. Ofili, a cardiologist, is the study’s lead investigator.


Building Trust with the Black Community

Five takeaways from the Black Health Matters Summit on improving clinical study representation

Amgen recently partnered with Black Health Matters (BHM) in Atlanta at its annual Winter Summit and Expo, which focuses on ways to address the physical and emotional well-being of the Black community. Black Health Matters (BHM) is a leading communications organization that provides inclusive health and wellness information to the Black community. BHM is rooted in evidence and operates in close collaboration with medical experts, industry and other sponsors. The Summit was buzzing with more than 600 community members, healthcare professionals, industry partners and local community organizations exchanging knowledge on various health topics and capitalizing on the unique opportunity to receive free health screenings including chemistry panels, cholesterol, mammograms, and many more. The Summit also aimed to empower the Black community to be its own health advocate.

Nearly 40% of Americans belong to a racial or ethnic minority, but individuals who participate in clinical studies for new drugs skew predominantly white. That is why it is so important for companies, like Amgen, to be committed to enrolling representative participants for clinical studies. Prioritizing representation in clinical research will create momentum toward improving health equity and finding better treatment outcomes for all patients.

Jude Ngang, executive director, Representation in Clinical Research (RISE), attended the Summit and shares his five key takeaways from the busy weekend.

  1. Communities of color are interested in learning more about clinical studies.

  2. Amgen hosted a booth where employees shared information about the impact of underrepresentation in clinical studies. The goal of this booth was to help attendees understand that having representative participation in clinical studies allows for the development of treatments for diseases that disproportionately affect their communities.

    Amgen employees gathered in Atlanta recently to help support our sponsorship of the Black Health Matters Winter Summit.

  3. Partnerships are critical to building trust.

  4. Research has shown that Black populations lack trust in the healthcare system, including clinical studies. It's important that we acknowledge the historical reasons for that distrust and meet traditionally underserved patient populations where they are in order to build relationships. Collaborating with Morehouse School of Medicine, the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) and organizations such as BHM helps Amgen reach these patients through trusted community organizations and hopefully will reduce barriers to participating in important clinical research. 

  5. Representation matters.

  6. Amgen hosted a booth with the Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) focused on the African American Heart Study, which aims to recruit 5,000 African Americans to better understand cardiovascular disease. Morehouse's goal is to help accelerate health research and medical breakthroughs by increasing access to clinical studies.

    Representation in clinical studies matters because it informs the way we develop medicines. The effort to gather health data from a wide range of participants will in turn help inform better care for all. During the event, our MSM partners were able to recruit more than 130 individuals to sign up to potentially enroll in the African American Heart Study.

  7. Representation must be intentional when designing clinical studies.

  8. Being mindful that Black Americans are 30% more likely to die from heart disease than other racial and ethnic groups, Sheila Thorne, president and CEO at Multicultural Healthcare Marketing Group, and Dr. Elizabeth Ofili, MD, MPH, FACC, from Morehouse School of Medicine, hosted a Q&A session to discuss this issue and the African American Heart Study.

    "We are going to get information from this study and connect it to data we already know on Lp(a), since most of [the existing data] has been gathered from people of European ancestry … that's why this study is specifically designed for people of African descent to get new information that will allow us to develop treatments that will benefit all people," said Dr. Ofili, the study's lead investigator.

  9. Participation equals progress.

  10. Continued participation in community events such as the BHM Winter Summit and Expo and collaborating with like-minded external partners is key to helping Amgen fulfill its mission to serve all patients. Being on the ground at events like the BHM Winter Summit and Expo and working with community partners is building awareness of our goal – to be a leader in growing representation in clinical studies.

To learn more about the African American Heart Study, please visit AAHeartStudy.com.
To learn more about this event and future events hosted by Black Health Matters, please visit blackhealthmatters.com.

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