Leveling the Playing Field in Digital Clinical Trials
Clinical trials are the workhorse of testing new treatments with regards to evaluating the effect they have on health outcomes. Traditional clinical trials and clinical research studies are often centralized around a specific physical location such as a clinic or hospital and rely heavily on a “high-touch”, in-person approach with study staff and coordinators. The downstream effects can have a negative impact on recruitment from populations not affiliated with the site despite potentially benefiting the most from the proposed research. Decentralizing the model and designing for the participant to meet them where they are provides a new paradigm. The advent and continued advance of digital health technologies has added considerable flexibility in the types of research questions that can be asked and answered.
Importantly, the shift in study design has also brought significant opportunities to address the pressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in clinical trials and clinical research. The era of digital medicine and the explosion of decentralized studies as a result of the pandemic is a reminder that there is always room for innovation, however, we must simultaneously harness this innovation to address the healthy divide experienced by so many of our communities.
Edward Ramos, Ph.D., is Co-founder of the Digital Trials Center and Director of Digital Clinical Trials at Scripps Research and the Principal Science Officer at CareEvolution. Dr. Ramos’ work is based on the growing need to rethink the clinical trial lifecycle from design to deployment. Ed’s work is rooted in the desire to improve public health, having served in the federal government for nearly 15 years leading independent research and coordinating national research programs at the National Institutes of Health. As a researcher at heart, Dr. Ramos has always been driven by curiosity, however, not just the desire to understand biological processes but to also investigate what contributes to differences observed at the social level. Born in Queens, NY, his exposure to cultural diversity was immediate. Subsequently, his transition from the city to the suburbs of Philadelphia later in childhood created a unique lens that exposed differences in status, privilege, and health. Regardless of his surroundings, Dr. Ramos has always embraced his Latino culture celebrating his Puerto Rican roots from his father and Peruvian heritage from his mother.
Despite his love for science, Dr. Ramos was drawn to the underlying social infrastructure and policies that ultimately influenced health outcomes for individuals and communities. As a result, following defense of his PhD, Ed began his federal service as a legislative fellow and legislative assistant, advising then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama on health and science policy. His time on Capitol Hill speaking with and listening to constituents laid the groundwork that guides his work to this day seeking to improve health for all.
This event was recorded and will be available for two weeks on the Lectures website at https://www.lectures.iastate.edu/recordings/available-recordings