WKYT Investigates: Sanders-Brown trying to recruit minority participants

The Sanders-Brown Center on Aging at the University of Kentucky runs trials that lead to ground-breaking discoveries, but researchers are running into a problem. They say there’s a lack of diversity with their trials.
WKYT Investigates: Sanders-Brown trying to recruit minority participants
Published: Apr. 17, 2023 at 1:51 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Keisha Jones is the head of recruitment of clinical trials for Sanders-Brown, and she’s trying reach more people of color.

“These are my people! We’re gonna talk. We’re gonna talk about those things, and those hard questions, and those hard conversations,” says Jones. Talking about dementia, and the trials necessary to advance research on it, can be hard. There are historical barriers. “Tuskegee and Henrietta Lacks, those are some of the things a lot of us know about where those practices were not protecting human subjects,” explains Jones.

Angela Holloman identifies other barriers.

“There are certain things, certain social determinates of health like access to doctors, access to medications, availability of fresh foods, that can contribute to one’s health and those things do play a role in the development of vascular demetia and Alzheimer’s,” notes Holloman. “If they’re still working or caring for loved ones, time can be an issue. Transportation can be an issue, or just knowing that these resources and clinical trials are available.”

Holloman says people of color make up about 15% of all studies. The percentage participating in clinical trials is much lower.

“We want to be able to make sure we’re not excluding ourselves in medicines that are being developed. We don’t know what really works for us if we’re not involved,” says Jones. She’s a caregiver to a loved one with dementia. “We all have grandparents. We all have aunts and uncles. We all have someone that we know that has potentially been affected by Alzheimer’s disease.”

Jones is in charge of an 18-month project called “No One Left Behind” that targets minorities in the community, and introduces them to the work being done at Sanders-Brown. Grants are funding the educational program.

Sanders-Brown is always looking for volunteers and donations. You can sign up at medicine.uky.edu/centers/sbcoa.