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Diversity in Clinical Trials


Susan Taylor, MD, explained the current state of diversity in clinical trials, what is going well, and opportunities to improve.

In the Dermatology Times Expert Perspectives series "Advancements in Atopic Dermatitis: Insights from the 2024 Masterclasses in Dermatology Conference," leading dermatologists discuss the advancements in treatments and data for atopic dermatitis (AD) with hand-foot involvement, diversity in clinical trials, and pearls from the American Academy of Dermatology's AD treatment guidelines.

A study last year showed the number of clinical trials focused on AD is consistently increasing, spanning multiple countries on all continents and encompassing participants of diverse ethnicities, races, and skin tones. While the inclusion of such diversity is beneficial, it poses challenges in different regions, such as accurately diagnosing and assessing disease severity in individuals with varying skin colors.1

This episode features insights from Susan Taylor, MD, professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia, on the current state, challenges, and opportunities to ensure diverse patient populations are represented in clinical trials. Taylor founded the Skin of Color Society 20 years ago and the organization remains dedicated to advocacy for diversity in clinical trial settings.2

Episode Transcript

Taylor: One of the major challenges that we face in recruiting for clinical trials that include diverse populations is identifying the investigators who have those patient populations. You know, often there are very good dermatologists who don't have the resources, for example, to start a clinical trials unit as a part of their practice, perhaps they need additional training.

So that's a huge gap. And if we fill that gap, then we'll have more excellent investigators who have access to those diverse patient populations. It is not where we want it to be yet. Now that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has required companies to indicate how diverse their trials are, I think that has made a difference. I think there's a real effort by a variety of pharmaceutical companies to identify principal investigators who have diverse populations who know how to enroll diverse patients in clinical trials. So I'm very hopeful. We're not where we need to be yet the numbers are low for certain disease states, but I think we're making significant strides.

[Transcript edited for clarity]


1. Bissonnette R, Jankicevic J, Saint-Cyr Proulx E, Maari C. Ethnicity, race and skin color: challenges and opportunities for atopic dermatitis clinical trials. J Clin Med. 2023;12(11):3805. Published 2023 Jun 1. doi:10.3390/jcm12113805

2. Mentor spotlight: Dr. Susan C. Taylor, skin of Color Society founder. Mentor Spotlight: Dr. Susan C. Taylor, Skin of Color Society Founder - Skin of Color Society. Accessed March 11, 2024. https://skinofcolorsociety.org/search-results/22-blog/2047-42mentor-spotlight-dr-susan-c-taylor-skin-of-color-society-founder.

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