EQBMED, led by VUMC, partners with Meharry to advance clinical trial diversity in Nashville

(2/26/2024) Equitable Breakthroughs in Medicine Development (EQBMED) has selected Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn., as one of four sites aimed at addressing disparities in clinical trial access through industry and community partnerships. EQBMED is a joint venture led by Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), Morehouse School of Medicine, the Research Centers in Minority Institutions Coordinating Center at Morehouse School of Medicine, and Yale Medical School. This work is supported by a grant from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).


EQBMED is a community-centric, bidirectional partnership that brings together the pharmaceutical industry, top academic leaders, community health systems and trusted local voices to address clinical trial diversity among Black and Hispanic patient populations.


“Since its establishment in 1876, Meharry Medical College has been at the forefront of challenging health disparities,” said Dr. Rajbir Singh, MBBS, executive director of precision medicine and health equity trials design in Meharry’s Clinical and Translational Research Center. “We are delighted to join with our colleagues at these academic and research institutions in an effort to enhance diversity in the clinical trials and a more inclusive approach that involves underrepresented segments of our population.”


“There are myriad challenges to overcome if we want to address the racial and economic disparities in clinical trials and health care. Moreover, communities of color are not a monolith, so we cannot expect any two sites to require the same solutions. I am excited to be working with a team that understands that unique needs require unique solutions, and I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues on this necessary and crucial initiative,” said Peter Embí, M.D., MS, FACP, FACMI, FAMIA, FIAHSI, Professor and Chair of Biomedical Informatics, Professor of Medicine and Senior Vice-President for Research and Innovation at VUMC.


The EQBMED model stands out from others in the field because of its collaborative approach to working with local trial sites and trusted voices within the community. Each site participates in an assessment to determine what needs could be addressed through the EQBMED partnership to enhance its ability to provide a sustainable and impactful clinical trial model for their community. The partnership provides local leaders a voice in determining which trials are best suited for development within their community and provides sites both physical and technical assistance.


Meharry’s aspirations and opportunities to enhance their ongoing work include:

• Increasing Black representation for new trial therapeutic areas

• Increasing overall representation of Hispanic & Latino participation

• Retaining diverse staff between trials

• Technology assets to enhance trial performance tracking and efficiency

• Translation and communications capabilities

• Methods to support community-driven research prioritization and design


Once an assessment is completed and resource needs are understood, each site is paired with its initial industry partner to develop a clinical trial. Here again, local leaders will work to inform members of diverse patient populations about clinical trials and their role in developing the medicines of tomorrow.
EQBMED is building on and leveraging past and present work in the field to support local sites in underrepresented communities to increase the participation of diverse patient populations and achieve equity in clinical research. We are tackling systemic and historical challenges to clinical trial participation through and sharing our findings broadly to generate learnings, building bi-directional partnerships to create a foundation of trust, and fostering sustained change.


About Meharry Medical College

Meharry Medical College, founded in 1876, is the nation’s largest private, independent historically Black academic health sciences center dedicated to educating minority and other health professionals. True to its heritage, it is a United Methodist Church related institution. The college is particularly well known for its uniquely nurturing, highly effective educational programs; emerging preeminence in health disparities research; culturally sensitive, evidence-based health services and significant contribution to the diversity of the nation’s health professions workforce. Meharry is a leading national educator of African Americans with M.D. and D.D.S. degrees and Ph.D. degrees in the biomedical sciences.


About Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) is the largest comprehensive research, teaching and patient care health system in the Mid-South region, with the highest ranked adult and children’s hospitals in the Southeast by U.S. News & World Report. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, VUMC sees more than 3.2 million patient visits per year in over 180 ambulatory locations, performs 91,000 surgical operations and discharges 79,000 inpatients from its main-campus adult, children’s, psychiatric and rehabilitation hospitals and three regional community hospitals. The Medical Center is the largest non-governmental employer of Middle Tennesseans, with nearly 40,000 staff, including more than 3,000 physicians, advanced practice nurses and scientists appointed to the Vanderbilt University faculty. For more information and the latest news follow VUMC on Facebook, LinkedIn, X and in the VUMC Reporter.


About PhRMA

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading innovative biopharmaceutical research companies, which are devoted to discovering and developing medicines that enable patients to live longer, healthier and more productive lives. PhRMA has convened thousands of stakeholders to explore a new potential infrastructure with diverse communities, health systems, and academia that seeks to show proof of concept for a network of connected, community-rooted and sustainable trial sites. PhRMA provided a grant to Yale University to support the creation and development of this initiative. Learn more about PhRMA’s Equity Initiative at PhRMA.org/Equity.