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Research Lab Unveils Tool to Improve Clinical Trial Participation


Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory details how the new tool will help reduce common barriers to trial participation.



While the COVID-19 pandemic was an incredibly difficult time for everyone, it also provided plenty of opportunities to learn, especially when it comes to the life sciences industry.

Researchers at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory have created a new tool to help push for more diversity in clinical trials. In a press release,1 the laboratory details how research conducted during the pandemic led to the creation of this tool.

Tobias Janowitz, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Professor and Cancer Center member, says that during the pandemic, he helped lead a COVID-19 clinical trial. When it came time to results, he noticed an unusual trend. Unlike most trials, this event had been populated with a highly diverse group of subjects. This was especially surprising considering that the team hadn’t intentionally worked to gather a diverse group of subjects, it had seemingly occurred naturally.

Janowitz, working with Clinical Fellow Hassal Lee, decided to see if they could discover why this happened and if the results could be duplicated for cancer trials.

In recent years, the pharmaceutical industry has been paying attention to the fact that clinical trials aren’t always diverse. There has been a push to ensure that trials are populated with a diverse group of subjects that mirrors that real-world patient population. This way, the results of the studies will provide a much clearer picture of how patients will react to the treatment.

In the press release, Karen Winkfield, Executive Director of the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance and member of the National Cancer Advisory Board, says, "The biggest reason patients don't enroll is they're not asked. They aren't asked because there may not be clinical trials close to them."

She later continued, “We can do a much better job of providing access to clinical trials in the communities where it matters most. If we're able to use this tool to make real collaborations with community health centers and hospitals that are interested, this could be a game changer."

The new tool uses data to create maps of clinical trial sites. It then gathers information on nearby areas where there are hospitals that could be incorporated into the trial.

In the same press release, Janowitz explains, “Clinical trials should be accessible to all. Currently, 78 sites host about 94% of all U.S. cancer trials. We offer a new approach for these and other sites to use available data in designing more equitable clinical trials."

Lee adds, “For example, if you wanted to diversify the population for a clinical trial, you could use our tool to generate maps with whatever demographics you want. It's transferable to any U.S. area as long as you have Census data."


  1. Better Cancer Trials Could Be Around the Corner. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. March 21, 2024. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/better-cancer-trials-could-be-around-the-corner-302094451.html
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