“You can talk all you want about promoting diversity in the patient population, but you won’t get anywhere if you don’t advance diversity in the clinical trial workforce,” says Sergio Armani, vice president and head of Large Pharma & CRO Business Development for Advarra, adding his voice to the growing choir of thought leaders advocating the same idea.
However, there’s a difference when Armani talks, because when it comes to promoting diversity in the clinical trial workforce, he’s about to walk the walk…or more accurately, ride the bike.
Armani and co-pilot Rick Fisher, global head of Site Activation Managers at IQVIA, are gearing up to bike the 334 miles from Pittsburgh, Pa. to the Alexandria, Va. headquarters of the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) from June 5 to 11. The goal of the ACRP Ride for Diversity is to raise awareness and funds to promote clinical trials as a great career to underserved populations often left out of current recruitment pitches, Armani says.
Armani is a member and treasurer of ACRP’s Association Board of Trustees and is active in ACRP’s Partners in Workforce Advancement initiative. He hopes the bike ride will help spur both groups to greater heights in advancing diversity in the clinical trial workforce.
“I’m personally and professionally grateful about all the recent conversations about diversifying the patient and workforce populations in clinical trials,” Armani says, though he’s quick to add that words without action probably won’t get the job done. “My career in the clinical research industry has been extremely rewarding and gratifying. Paying it forward through this riding event is the very least I can do.”
The time for action is now, Armani stresses. “It’s important for us all to come together to fight this good, important fight,” he says, noting that diversifying the patient population and workforce in clinical trials is not only the right thing to do morally, but will also improve the scientific integrity and impact of clinical trials by better reflecting all populations. “It so clearly is the right thing to do,” he adds.
Armani notes that many African Americans in particular remain understandably wary of clinical trials, in part due to past patient abuses. “Minorities would feel much more comfortable enrolling in a clinical trial if there were more minorities working the trials,” he says.
Armani and Fisher will camp under the stars as they make their way southeast on the Great Allegheny Passage rail trail from Pittsburgh to its intersection with the C&O Canal towpath trail in Cumberland, Md., then farther southeast along the historic canal and Potomac River to Washington, D.C. and onto another route across the river to Alexandria and ACRP’s waterfront headquarters.
“The effort to complete this ride in no way, of course, compares to the struggle that many minorities have had in competing for jobs in the U.S., but if it helps improve that situation even a little, it will be a success for everyone,” Armani notes.
Author: Michael Causey