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WCG Institute Podcast: Pioneers of Clinical Research
Insights from leaders in clinical research and trial optimization, hosted by the WCG Institute.
Jan 8, 2021
Lisa LaLuna, Matchmaking to Save Lives: The Clinical Trial Search Tool for Everyone
From a career devoted to finding better ways to connect patient volunteers to clinical trials, Lisa LaLuna knows why the public needed an online search tool that is easier to use than the traditional methods of access. “Members of the public often want to find a trial to access the latest medicine, or help a family member, or just to participate as a healthy volunteer to further medical research. Pharmaceutical companies that run clinical trials of course want to enroll patients so their research can be successful. In spite of this mutual desire to work together, patients and trial organizers often cannot find each other,” Lisa explains. Some trials are stopped because they cannot enroll enough people and others are delayed because enrollment takes too long. In this unfortunate scenario – one that happens too often – this slows down the development of treatments and cures that patients depend on. Lisa explains the importance of this search tool in providing a simple, fast way to discover trials specific to a disease, a location, and the personal characteristics of volunteers being sought. “You can even opt in to be notified when more trials are posted, and send a message to the local trial site to request contact to learn more and possibly be screened for qualification purposes. “ Lisa explains. This free website can be found by anyone at centerwatch.com/clinical-trials. Visitors to the site will find basic information about what a clinical trial is and why someone would want to participate. Patient Advocacy groups are providing this website to their members to educate them about the value of clinical trials and where to find them, in order to support the search for cures. Patient groups like the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, the Alzheimer’s Association, and the rare disease group The Rett Syndrome Foundation are enthusiastic about how their use of this tool is helping them help their communities of patients and their families. “Clinical trial search tools have been too complicated in the past and we sought to create a tool that is simple and fast so anyone can use it,” Lisa explains. “Seeing the adoption by Patient Advocacy Groups is most satisfying.” Lisa LaLuna of WCG Patient Advocacy has thirty years working in clinical trials and is a passionate advocate for easing the search for trials for those wishing to volunteer.
Dec 16, 2020
Connecting Patients to Trials: Bernadette Siddiqi of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research
Bernadette Siddiqi, associate director of research partnerships at The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research talks about how they give members of the public access to the Fox Trial Finder. This clinical trial search tool that allows anyone to search for Parkinson’s disease clinical trials. More than 300 are listed on the site. It’s a bottleneck in clinical research. Patients are eager for a cure, but it can be difficult for them to connect to trials and for researchers to connect to volunteers. Bernadette speaks of why it is critical to the foundation’s mission to provide an easy way to make this connection. Just as important, she says, is educating people about research. Fox Trial Finder provides both. Roughly 700 people visit the site each month. The Fox Trial Finder is powered by CenterWatch iConnect, and The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research is part of growing list of patient advocacy groups that deploy this search tool to inform and empower their patient community. The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease through an aggressively funded research agenda.
Dec 1, 2020
Ros Cheetham, Pharmaceutical Industry Professional, Volunteers for a COVID-19 Trial
After more than 25 years working to plan and conduct clinical trials at pharmaceutical companies, Ros Cheetham decided to put herself into the patient role: She volunteered to participate in a COVID vaccine clinical trial. She discusses why she decided to participate in the trial and shares her experiences. So far, it’s all been positive: She speaks of modern methods, safety and the well-organized approach and thoughtful communications used by the clinical research site. She also talks about the barriers, such as distance, that prevent some people from participating in clinical trials, and calls on the industry to help potential participants to overcome those barriers. Studies must be as inclusive as possible so clinical research can benefit a more representative cross-section of our society. She also exhorts individuals to, like her, become clinical trial volunteers. Trials need volunteers, and everyone should have the experience of being in a clinical trial. Cheetham is a pharmaceutical development professional providing expertise in global drug development, global clinical operations solutions and partnership and alliance strategy. Her broad industry experience encompasses several vice president positions. She has led product development teams through successful filings and commercialization of new drugs as well as having implemented innovative global operational solutions that provided cost savings with timely execution and high quality.
Oct 21, 2020
On the Future of Movement Disorder Trials: Part 4 of WCG’s Transforming CNS Trials Series
Movement disorder trials have always been demanding. Now, sponsors face an additional challenge: How do you ensure data integrity in the era of remote clinical trials? In this podcast, Bob Dagher, MD, WCG MedAvante-ProPhase’s Chief Medical Officer, addresses this in conversation with Steve Smith, WCG President of Patient Advocacy. This is the fourth episode in our series, “Transforming CNS Trials During COVID-19—and Beyond.” Sponsors planning to restart movement disorder programs need to be clear-eyed and realistic, Dagher counsels. “When it comes to remote assessments, we have to be vigilant and aware of what we can do and also about what we really cannot do.” Some assessments simply cannot be performed remotely. This means sponsors will need to figure out how to account for variability and missing data in their statistical plan before locking the database. FDA guidance on the conduct of trials during COVID-19 helps provide a roadmap. For example, in the case of anticipated missing data the guidance clearly states to capture specific information in the case report form that explains the relationship to COVID-19. But it also requires in-depth scientific and clinically-informed knowledge so that the quality of the data captured isn’t sacrificed as direct result. Accordingly, WCG has been working with clients to tailor remote assessments for sponsors’ trials, yielding assessments that are as close as possible to the in-person versions (minus those particular items that cannot be done remotely). Dagher’s message? “Ensuring data integrity at every step of the process should be the primary guide for any decision-making process when deciding to restart your study.” Prior to joining WCG MA-PP, Dr. Dagher, was the Chief Medical Officer of Cadent Therapeutics in Cambridge, Mass. Before that, he served in many leadership roles at small and large biopharmaceutical and clinical research organizations, including GlaxoSmithKline, Genzyme, Sanofi and Covance, among others. Dr. Dagher has fostered the development of multiple products in different indications and development platforms and advanced several small molecules and biologics across all stages of clinical development. His background includes therapeutic experience in psychiatry, neurology and rare diseases.
Oct 8, 2020
Prostate Cancer Survivor Bryce Olson’s Message: “Sequence Me!”
As a global strategist for Intel’s Health and Life Sciences Group, Bryce Olson had an up close view of innovation happening in the lab—especially in terms of genomic sequencing and gene therapy. As a man diagnosed with aggressive stage 4 prostate cancer at 44, he had as well an up close view of how that innovation was not being translated into the clinic. He was started on a one-size-fits-all standard of care. It didn’t work, and chemo made him ill. In this podcast episode, he talks about how he demanded—and received—DNA sequencing. That data led him to find the right trial and the right medicine for his type of prostate cancer. He’s now a very vocal advocate of sequencing. Among other endeavors, he founded Sequence Me (www.sequenceme.org), a patient-driven movement to accelerate access and adoption of new genomic sequencing innovations for cancer.
Sep 30, 2020
On the Future of Depression Trials: Part 3 of WCG’s Transforming CNS Trials Series
In major depressive disorder, researchers have used remote assessments for decades. As a result, many of these studies have had an easier time adapting to the new clinical trial landscape. But that doesn’t mean they are pandemic-proof. So what are the critical success factors for clinical depression programs—especially now? In his conversation with WCG President of Patient Advocacy Steve Smith, Mark Opler, PhD, MPH, Chief Research Officer at WCG MedAvante-ProPhase offers his insights on the future of clinical depression trials. This is the third episode in our podcast series, “Transforming CNS Trials During COVID-19—and Beyond.” We’re headed in the right direction by enabling more patient-friendly evaluation, but – especially in light of the pandemic – we must continue to refine these systems and make sure that we have the input of patients, caregivers, and of course, investigators. Among his recommendations: Ensure clinicians have the right depression-assessment tools and that they are using them correctly. It’s also critical, he says, to have a solid remote assessment methodology in place. This means not only incorporating the right tools, but also establishing a way of continuously protecting data quality, such as WCG's Study Insight Analytics Platform. Mark Opler, PhD, MPH, is Chief Research Officer at WCG MedAvante-ProPhase. Dr. Opler was the founder of ProPhase and served as its CEO and Chief Scientific Officer, among other roles. He serves as adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry at New York University and assistant professor of clinical neuroscience at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. He is also leading the development of the forthcoming edition of the PANSS Manual.
Sep 29, 2020
LaTasha H. Lee, PhD, MPH: Advocating for health equity, advancing sickle cell disease research
LaTasha Lee, PhD, MPH’s path to becoming a sickle cell disease (SCD) researcher and policy advocate began as a child. Because the SCD trait ran in her family, she became a patient advocate while still small. Today, she is Vice President, Social and Clinical Research & Development, at the National Minority Quality Forum. In this wide-ranging interview, she touches on an array of issues affecting the SCD community. Among them: adult patients who end up in the emergency room, the increased number of available therapeutics and the robust pipeline of SCD therapies. Of particular concern is the challenge of accessing pain medication — both in the ER and in primary care practices. “Individuals with this disease often aren’t believed. They are considered drug seekers when they aren’t.” She also makes a passionate call for increased minority participation in healthcare and in research to enhance equity and improve outcomes. Dr. Lee is responsible for the oversight and implementation of research projects and programs focused on reducing patient risk and identifying optimal care to reduce health disparities and bring about health equity at the National Minority Quality Forum. Before that, she served as Senior Manager of Partnership Engagement of the Sickle Cell Disease Clinical Trials Network (SCD CTN) at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) Research Collaborative. She was responsible for establishing, implementing and maintaining effective partnerships with stakeholders including patients, academic medical centers, other clinical research sites, industry, and federal agencies regarding their interests in SCD CTN. As an experienced research manager at ASH she was tasked with the development of a patient engagement strategy and clinical trials network for SCD. While at ASH, Dr. Lee was also responsible for the day-to-day management and implementation of projects, programs and activities related to ASH’s Call to Action on Sickle Cell Disease.
Sep 24, 2020
Jeffrey Borghoff: Finding Joy and Purpose after an Early-onset Alzheimer’s Diagnosis
At 51, Jeffrey Borghoff was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. What would devastate many people turned Borghoff into an advocate. The former software architect and developer is now a national spokesperson for the Alzheimer's Association and board member of the Greater New Jersey chapter. In this podcast, he talks about how the diagnosis forced him to reprioritize his life. “I've been pretty successful at that. I've been leading a very purposeful, engaging, joyful life.” With his care partner—his wife, Kimberly—he travels around the country making the case for research funding—and for clinical trial participation. That’s critical because important Alzheimer’s trials focus on younger-onset AD patients. Unfortunately, many people who are beginning to show signs at a very young age want to deny they have the disease. They won’t go into trials or even get a diagnosis. His messages to them: This disease does not define who you are, and research is important.
Sep 21, 2020
On the Future of Schizophrenia Trials: Part 2 of WCG’s Transforming CNS Trials Series
Remote assessments have become a necessity across CNS trials, but some areas are more complicated than others. Schizophrenia provides one such example; the risk of variability is high, and sponsors are concerned. In this podcast, Mark Opler, PhD, MPH, Chief Research Officer at WCG MedAvante-ProPhase, sits down with WCG President of Patient Advocacy Steve Smith to discuss the topic. This is the second episode in our podcast series, “Transforming CNS Trials During COVID-19—and Beyond.” PANSS—the gold standard rating scale for schizophrenia primary outcomes—is based largely on face-to-face interviews; it wasn’t developed for remote assessments. Is it still usable? Yes, says Dr. Opler. “I’m pleased to report that the anecdotal experience, as well as available data, suggests assessments conducted with patients with schizophrenia via video can be done reliably and can be done in a way that produces valid data.” It can be done—the tools exist. But it’s the way sponsors and CROs approach remote assessments that can make or break data integrity—and he delves into that topic in this podcast. In particular, he shares how sponsors and CROs can leverage remote assessments in their next clinical trial. Mark Opler, PhD, MPH, is Chief Research Officer at WCG MedAvante-ProPhase. Dr. Opler was the founder of ProPhase and served as its CEO and Chief Scientific Officer, among other roles. He serves as adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry at New York University and assistant professor of clinical neuroscience at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. He is also leading the development of the forthcoming edition of the PANSS Manual.
Sep 16, 2020
Lisa Deck: Young Stroke Survivor Transforms Life-altering Challenge into Purpose-driven Advocacy for Others
Lisa Deck was a healthy 21-year old a week away from college graduation when her first stroke put her in the hospital. She barely made it to her graduation ceremony. She suffered two more strokes before she turned 25, and after that, a fourth stroke. After serious misdiagnosis and incorrect treatments, she was finally diagnosed with Moyamoya disease, a rare condition without a cure, but it does have a surgical treatment. In this podcast, she shares her diagnostic odyssey, her commitment to advocacy and the value of peer and family support. She also talks about the importance of staying positive and why patients must advocate for themselves.
Aug 31, 2020
The Case for Centralized Monitoring: Optimizing Data Quality and Risk Management with Linda Sullivan and Steve Young
How can CROs and sponsors detect potential problems and issues in clinical trial conduct and data quality? That’s one of the critical issues discussed in Steve Young’s interview with Linda Sullivan, MBA, Executive Director of WCG’s Metric Champion Consortium (MCC). Young, Chief Scientific Officer at CluePoint, discusses how risk-based quality management (RBQM) methodology, data analytics, and data surveillance are being utilized today to go beyond just ferreting out fraud. Now, Young says, clinical trial stakeholders are deploying advanced statistical engines to detect quality and data breaches in investigational studies. According to Young, while there are still instances, to varying degrees, of major misconduct in clinical trials, CROs and sponsors are increasingly turning to online solutions to risk planning. It’s important, he adds, that when risks are discovered, the solutions are integrated into the workflow of clinical trials. In fact, Young asserts, one of the biggest c…
Aug 28, 2020
Michael Poku, MD, MBA: Implements solutions to improve minority representation in clinical trials
For many of the same reasons underrepresented populations lack access to appropriate healthcare services, they are also left out of clinical trials. The problem is widely known, but solutions have been hard to come by. In this episode, Michael Poku, MD, MBA, biopharma medical director at Signify Health, explains why this is the case and then shares some approaches he and his colleagues have successfully used to remove the barriers to clinical trial participation. An important aspect is understanding the larger picture—that inequality is due to in large measure to longstanding and systemic issues. He discusses how unmet social needs rarely occur in isolation. Addressing those needs together can lead to better representation in clinical trials. “Sponsors are incredibly excited about opportunities to make their trials more representative and to have underrepresented minorities participate,” he says. In addition to his work at Signify Health, Dr. Poku is on clinical faculty at Met…
Aug 27, 2020
Dana Deighton: Esophageal Cancer Patient and Persistent Activist For Her Own Survival
Dana Deighton, an esophageal cancer survivor, shares her diagnostic odyssey of false starts and life-threatening detours. Deighton had always been healthy—she didn’t smoke, didn’t drink and exercised every day. Then came a joint pain that wouldn’t go away, visits to numerous doctors, a series of misdiagnoses, invasive tests, and growing symptoms. The correct diagnosis of stage 4 esophageal cancer “was not the diagnosis anyone wants.” But she refused to accept physicians’ recommendations for palliative care as a solution. She describes her persistent advocacy to convince doctors to consider her as an individual different from expectations and generalizations. She asked the hard questions and had the hard discussions, resulting in an outcome better than expected. She recommends physicians and patients do the homework, energetically collaborate and consider the individual patient in the quest for a solution. “Don’t be a passive patient.” Dana Deighton works for the…
Aug 27, 2020
Striving for Reliability: Optimizing Patient Report Data through World-Class Design Management with Linda Sullivan, Nat Katz, and Art Morales
Can patients be trained to report their symptoms more accurately?* *That’s one of the key topics discussed in Nat Katz’s and Art Morales’ interview with Linda Sullivan, MBA, Executive Director of WCG’s Metric Champion Consortium (MCC). Katz, the Chief Science Officer of WCG-Analgesic Solutions and Morales*, *Vice President, Technology Solutions at WCG, assert that, with proper design and implementation, you can structure clinical trials, such as pain management studies, so that patients learn how to better report their symptoms. With proper training, patients learn to accurately report their symptoms, resulting in more reliable data, according to Katz and Morales. During COVID-19, they add, sponsors have had the opportunity to examine ways to introduce new technologies, such as telehealth, to clinical trial operations and to use more science-based tools for evaluating the performance of clinical trials. COVID-19 also has accelerated the scientific evaluation of clinical sites b…
Aug 19, 2020
The Upside of Centralized Monitoring During a Pandemic: Linda Sullivan, Duncan Hall, and Rachel Oakley on Optimizing Clinical Trials through Innovative RBQM Technology
How are clinical trial companies pivoting to implement Risk-Based Quality Management programs during the pandemic?* *That’s one of the deep dives explored in Duncan Hall’s and Rachel Oakley’s interview with Linda Sullivan, MBA, Executive Director of WCG’s Metric Champion Consortium (MCC). Hall, founder and CEO of Triumph Research Intelligence (TRI) and Oakley, Vice President of RBQM Services at TRI, note that, when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, CROs and sites performed risk assessments on their existing studies. Then those organizations took advantage of innovative technology that had a key tool for optimizing clinical trials — centralized monitoring. According to Hall and Oakley, that tool enables critical oversight and monitoring of investigational sites, even when in-person visits are not feasible. They point out that regulatory agencies are issuing new guidance during the pandemic, and that sponsors, CROs, and sites need to figure out how to comply with both those new…
Aug 17, 2020
Get Rid of Those Silos: Linda Sullivan, Artem Andrianov, and Johann Proeve on How To Optimize Clinical Trials through RBQM
What’s the secret to success for* *implementing a world-class holistic approach to a Risk-Based Quality Management (RBQM) system? That’s one of the key topics from Artem Andrianov‘s and Johanna Proeve’s interview with Executive Director of WCG’s Metric Champion Consortium (MCC), Linda Sullivan, MBA. Andrianov, CEO, and Proeve, Chief Science Officer at Cyntegrity emphasize the importance of developing a clinical trial platform that enables your organization to manage the entire quality management cycle rather than continuing with traditional silo-based approaches. This comprehensive approach, they explain, enables pharmaceutical companies to become more efficient in reducing risk, which is especially important during the current pandemic. In addition, they note, in the COVID-19 era, more organizations have had to turn to holistic risk-based quality management systems because, for example, Excel doesn’t always work for managing RBQM, especially in larger clinical trials. Toda…
Jul 30, 2020
Gregory L. Hall, MD: Writing the Book on Health Disparities in African Americans
Ever since elementary school, Gregory L. Hall, MD, knew he would be a doctor. In this interview, he shares that journey and how he came to write the book—literally—on health disparities for African Americans. His focus on disparities began more than 30 years ago with his appointment to the Ohio Commission on Minority Health—the first such commission in the country. Eventually, when he became the chairman, he had to give quarterly reports. The research he conducted on disparities for those reports opened his eyes, he says. “I naively believed that providers and physicians didn’t contribute to health disparities. I thought it was just poverty and a lack of insurance. I didn’t know that, actually, providers contribute to it, health systems contribute to it.” He was shocked, and what he learned led to him write his book, Patient-Centered Clinical Care for African Americans: A Concise, Evidence-Based Guide to Important Differences and Better Outcomes. It is for physicians an…
Jul 29, 2020
Turning Insights Into Action: Linda Sullivan and Ken Getz on How Metrics and Benchmarking Provide a Path To Optimizing Clinical Trials
"What impact does a remote clinical team operating model have on clinical trial performance?" That’s one of the hot topics from Ken Getz’s interview with Executive Director of WCG’s Metric Champion Consortium (MCC), Linda Sullivan, MBA. He describes several projects that the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development (Tufts CSDD) is currently working on; ones that will provide robust, data-driven analysis and strategic insights that help drug development professionals improve pharmaceutical R&D. Getz is the Deputy Director of Tufts CSDD and Professor at the Tufts University School of Medicine. At any given time, Getz states that Tufts is conducting between 12 and 15 grant-funded projects. The ideas for their studies are often generated from conversations in working groups, like MCC’s member networks. They also arise from thought-provoking conversations at industry conferences. But no matter where the studies come from, the studies always provide a “think tank for that ve…
Jul 29, 2020
Peter A. DiBiaso, MHA: Taking on the Ironman, Mount Kilimanjaro and Parkinson’s disease: a clinical trials patient recruitment expert speaks about his own life as a patient
Pharmaceutical executive Peter A. DiBiaso, MHA, a triathlete who has successfully completed the grueling Ironman, learned at age 49 he had early-onset Parkinson’s disease. He shares his experiences—and triumphs—in this episode. What started as a small tremor in his right hand and a stiffness in his right ankle ended up changing his life. It was a blow, but he knew what to do: The diagnosis brought his personal and professional life full circle. Five years later, he reports minimal disease progression. He is doing well and remains incredibly active. Other than well-managed medication, to what does he attribute his success so far? * Staying fit and continuing to be an athlete. He is still running marathons and recently scaled Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. * Engaging with patient advocacy groups—in particular, the Michael J. Fox Foundation. (In fact, his Kilimanjaro trek was part of a Team Fox effort to raise money for the foundation.) * His ability t…
Jul 29, 2020
Lisa Carlton, PhD: Fighting Rare Diseases as a Mother, Patient Advocate and Regulatory Affairs Professional
Lisa Carlton, PhD, understands rare childhood diseases both professionally and personally. She was already a scientist specializing in rare diseases when her daughter was diagnosed with one: tuberous sclerosis. As VP of Global Regulatory Affairs for a biotech drug developer she is involved in development of treatments for other rare diseases too. This makes her an ideal person to co-chair an industry-patient-advocacy group called the Working Group on Regulatory Science, a part of the EveryLife Foundation for Rare Disorders that seeks to advance the development of treatment and diagnostic opportunities for rare disease patients through science-driven public policy. Tuberous sclerosis, a rare genetic disorder, affects one in every 6,000 newborns in the United States. It is a disorder that causes benign growth in almost any tissue; it’s of particular concern when it occurs in the brain, lungs or kidneys. Some people who have tuberous sclerosis may have learning problems or difficult-to…
Jul 24, 2020
A Discussion with Linda Sullivan and Laurie Halloran on Now Is the Time: Making Your Clinical Trial More Resilient
In this episode, host Linda Sullivan, MBA, Executive Director of WCG's Metric Champion Consortium (MCC) chats with Laurie Halloran, founder of the Halloran Consulting Group, about how she developed an on-demand drug development team that can fill in gaps in the clinical trial process for life science companies, whether these involve regulatory strategy or execution, or quality, clinical, or manufacturing issues. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in these companies having to pivot to more virtual experiences. At the beginning of the outbreak, she notes, her group organized town halls that made it clear to stakeholders that life science companies had to implement telehealth and other remote monitoring solutions to protect patient safety. As a result of the pandemic, Halloran explains, her group is reviewing clinical trial protocols to determine how technology can be better utilized in the collection of clinical trial data. In conclusion, Halloran says, “don’t waste this opportunity…
Jul 21, 2020
Hong Liu, PhD, Making Chicago a Healthier City for Asian Americans
To fully engage Chicago’s medically underserved Chinese and other Asian communities and to help them address their own health issues, Dr. Hong Liu’s Midwest Asian Health Association reaches out in Mandarin, Cantonese and other languages—and does so in culturally appropriate ways. The result is better access to healthcare for many low-income, often new-immigrant minorities who experience certain health problems in higher prevalence than the general population including hepatitis, liver cancer, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and mental illness. She and her team engage people to participate in education, screening and diagnostic services, and counseling. They also partner with hospitals, medical professionals, medical schools and drug companies to connect community members with care. Too often, she says, many don’t know what’s available, and for cultural reasons they don’t access the systems that are available to them. In many cases, the emergency department is their…
Jul 8, 2020
Roslyn Daniels, Black Health Matters Founder and President, on Health Disparities and Exciting Communities About Health
In this episode, Roslyn Daniels, the founder and president of Black Health Matters, talks about how her organization educates and motivates African-American communities about taking care of one’s own health. Seeing her own grandparents die too soon and recognizing that, in many communities, people are forced to choose between rent and healthcare, she realized that “access means nothing unless you have an understanding of the fundamentals of good health.” Using her background in media and direct-to-consumer marketing, Daniels established Black Health Matters. Its online presence and social media activity generate excitement in the public, presenting easy-to-digest information in a positive, upbeat way that appeals to a wide range of ages and interests. Its live events feature a stellar lineup of leading healthcare experts. The 4th Annual Black Health Matters Summit will be hosted online July 18, 2020. The public can access this event free by checking out www.blackhealthmatters.…
Jun 12, 2020
Dorelia Rivera talks about health disparities, a career in advocacy and saving her daughter’s life
Our guest this episode, patient advocate Dorelia Rivera, improves access to healthcare services and clinical trials for the underrepresented, including her own Hispanic community. Her advocacy ranges from community volunteer work, to jobs for a state health and human services department, a payor, and a rare disease drug company. She advocates on Capitol Hill and served on the National Institutes of Health Advisory Council on Diversity She’s also a mother of a child with a rare disease. Rivera’s daughter has an ultra-rare condition, NOMID--neonatal onset multisystem inflammatory disease. When she was first diagnosed, the doctor said she wouldn’t live to be 10 years old. Today, she is thriving teenager, thanks to an NIH clinical trial and her mother’s persistence. Rivera talks about her daughter and her advocacy for underserved communities. Like those with rare diseases, racial and ethnic minorities are too often overlooked. “Health disparities are real,” she says. The COV…
Jun 12, 2020
Christopher Gantz, Building Trust and minority enrollment in clinical trials at Thomas Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia
“Our research population should match our community population.” That’s one of the takeaways from Christopher Gantz’s interview with WCG President of Patient Advocacy Steve Smith. He describes several programs that help connect researchers with minority communities to increase engagement and access enrollment in clinical trials. Gantz is senior director of the Regional Liaison Office at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center (SKCC) at Thomas Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia. Since 2005, he has worked on multiple clinical trials projects with recruitment goals ranging from 500 to 10,000 participants. He describes establishing an “honest broker network” and engagement of resources within the hospital and within the community to ease communication, build trust and facilitate trial enrollment. He also discusses some of SKCC’s language and cultural resources as well as its outreach into area schools. Listen to learn how SKCC’s success offers a model for other organizations to t…
Jun 8, 2020
Communicating the Value of Clinical Trials to Underserved Minority Communities
In this episode, we learn about CISCRP’s AWARE for All campaign, which builds awareness of, creates access to and encourages participation in clinical trials. Ellyn Getz, Associate Director of Development and Community Engagement at CISCRP, The Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation, discusses AWARE for All. CISCRP's flagship grassroots campaign works with diverse communities around the world to build a greater awareness and understanding of the clinical research process and the role that participation plays in advancing public health. This program is a response to health disparities in these communities—disparities rooted in the long-standing lack of access to healthcare, and gaps in understanding between these communities and the healthcare system. Each AWARE for All event brings together a diverse array of stakeholders, including community groups, local researchers, patient advocates and community members. “Hearing from local study volunteers and…
Jun 3, 2020
People, Process and Technology: The Right Combination for Successful Expert Committees
Independent expert committees provide essential validation of clinical data. Without their insights, sponsors risk missed signals, conflicts of interest and costly delays. But establishing a successful expert committee can be tricky. It requires the right combination of people, process and technology. In this three-part podcast, Lakshmi Sundar, head of business transformation at WCG ACI Clinical, explores each of these with a WCG ACI expert. In the first part of the series, Bill Stedman, manager of member services, shares his perspective on the “people” aspect. He discusses how success rests on having the right combination of expertise. Then, Dr. Bindi Shah, chief medical officer, explains how proper processes are critical to setting and running up expert committees. In the final part of the series, Mandy Moran, manager, innovation and technology, discusses how, when deployed correctly, technology supports the people and the process, allowing committee members do what they do best…
May 15, 2020
Bringing Clinical Trials Closer to Home: Smaller, Local Sites Build Trust & Provide Access to Local Communities
In this episode, Dolly Niles, executive director of QUEST Research Institute, talks about the role of small research sites and the value of community outreach. QUEST, a multi-specialty independent research site in metro Detroit, has conducted more than 350 phase 1-4 trials since it was established in 1996. Niles talks about the role of agile smaller sites during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many health systems and academic medical centers reassigned research staff to patient floors. Smaller sites like QUEST Research Institute have been able to step up, contract quickly and stand up new studies while completing current ones. She also touches on the importance of connecting with the local community--including minority communities. The fact that COVID-19 is hitting minority populations particularly hard “highlights something we already know--that minority communities are underrepresented in clinical research,” she says. “Sites need to spend time figuring out how to crack t…
May 6, 2020
Raise Your Voices: Social Network Provides Safe Place for Patients to Share Stories and Influence Research
In this episode, Brian Loew, founder and CEO of online patient portal Inspire, talks about the value to patients and caregivers of providing a safe and trustworthy online social network--a “peaceable kingdom,” as he calls it. Millions of patients representing 3,500 diseases--including many rare ones --come to Inspire.com for online community discussions focused on their own particular disease. The platform provides a place for meaningful conversations among patients and caregivers. It also allows them to share their insights in ways that advance clinical research. Patients want to support research, sometimes even initiating it themselves. And, more than ever, Loew says, researchers are interested in patient-reported information. If patients agree, they can also be connected to relevant clinical trials. Loew emphasizes that across all the conditions and forums, patients always have control over what data they share and where they share it--and in his experience, the more control t…
Apr 28, 2020
Frank Sasinowski, MS, MPH, JD Hymen Phelps & McNamara: Rare Disease Regulatory Transformation: 1983 AIDS Crisis to Present
Drug policy has transformed to bring transformative improvement to the way rare diseases are developed resulting in more FDA approved treatments. This transformation came about because of collaboration across stakeholders: patient advocates, the FDA, Congress, drug developers, researchers, and legal specialists. Profound change came in the mid 1980’s when AIDS activists, Rare Disease Activists, and others found ways to use policy to accelerate development of FDA approved treatments. Legal specialists Frank Sasinowski of Hymen Phelps and McNamara has always been a champion of the patient voice in legislative change, drug development policy, and FDA approvals. In this WCG Patient Radio episode with WCG’s President of Patient Advocacy, Steve Smith, Mr. Sasinowski speaks of the transition from a time in the late 90s when patients were not even considered in drug policy. He speaks of formalization of the patient voice into legislation, the Rare Disease Congressional Caucus, Patient-C…
Apr 28, 2020
Brian Loew, The INSPIRE social network platform provides a safe place for patients to meet, learn, and influence research
In this episode, Brian Loew, founder and CEO of online patient portal Inspire, talks about the value to patients and caregivers of providing a safe and trustworthy online social network: a “peaceable kingdom,” as he calls it. Millions of patients representing 3,500 diseases—including many rare ones—come to Inspire.com for online community discussions focused on their own particular disease. The platform provides a place for meaningful conversations among patients and caregivers. It also allows them to share their insights in ways that advance clinical research. Patients want to support research, sometimes even initiating it themselves. And, more than ever, Loew says, researchers are interested in patient-reported information. If patients agree, they can also be connected to relevant clinical trials. Loew emphasizes that across all the conditions and forums, patients always have control over what data they share and where they share it—and in his experience, the more control…
Apr 21, 2020
Thomas Farrington, cancer survivor’s Prostate Health Network gets African American communities talking about prostate cancer
In this podcast, Thomas Farrington, founder of the Prostate Health Network, speaks with WCG President of Patient Advocacy Steve Smith. Mr. Farrington discusses his experience with the healthcare system, coupled with his own research on prostate cancer, which led him to become a vocal advocate for prostate cancer patients and survivors. His advocacy spans a wide range of approaches from educational seminars, a frequently-visited website, a theater production called Daddy’s Boy that is now on tour, and visits to legislators on Capitol Hill to help shape public policy for the benefit of people with this unmet medical need. Mr. Farrington also serves as a trustee of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and as an advisor to a number of other healthcare organizations and programs, and he is on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s prostate cancer treatment guidelines panel and their prostate cancer early-detection guidelines panel.
Apr 17, 2020
We Should Not Be Surprised: COVID-19 Disparities Lay Bare What’s Been There All Along
In this episode, former Assistant FDA Commissioner Jonca Bull, MD, discusses racial disparities in healthcare, how COVID-19 has made them impossible to ignore, and how this highlights the need for diversity in clinical trials. Low-income minority communities are being hit disproportionately hard by COVID-19. Dr. Bull isn’t surprised: The current crisis has simply magnified existing disparities. A multitude of factors are at play, including lack of access to healthcare and healthful food. As a result of these and other issues, certain underlying health conditions are more prevalent in low-income minority communities. Clinical trials must include these populations so we can truly understand COVID-19 and how to treat it in real-world conditions. In fact, the FDA has long had guidance on how to make trials more diverse: * Collection of Race and Ethnicity Data in Clinical Trials—Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff * Enhancing the Diversity of Clinical Tr…
Apr 15, 2020
COVID-19 Doesn’t Play Fair: What We Need to Understand About Racial Disparities
This episode takes on a topic from recent headlines--namely, the racial disparity in COVID-19 cases and deaths. Edith P. Mitchell, MD, MACP, FCPP, shares her insights on the causes of these health disparities and how they relate to the coronavirus. Contributing factors include less access to testing, lack of insurance and paid time off, underlying health conditions, and the spread of misinformation about the virus. She also touches on how racial disparities affect clinical research. “When I came to Philadelphia, we had only 7.8% participation by African Americans in clinical trials. Yet 45% of Philadelphia is African American. We have been able to raise the participation in clinical trials to a high of 24.9%, and maintain a range around 20%,” she tells WCG President of Patient Advocacy Steve Smith. “Never assume African Americans don’t want to participate in clinical trials. They must be invited, and there must be cultural competence among healthcare providers.” Dr. Mitchel…
Apr 1, 2020
Dr. David Fajgenbaum, MD, Castleman’s Disease Survivor, Facing COVID-19 with Research, Action, and Hope
In this COVID-19 focused episode, Dr. David Fajgenbaum chats with President of WCG Patient Advocacy, Steve Smith, to talk about his journey as a medical researcher and patient of a rare disease and about the pandemic facing our daily lives. Known for his best-selling book, Chasing My Cure: Turning Hope Into Action, Dr. Fajgenbaum shares best practices for how everyone facing this crisis can get through these scary and trying times together as a community via hope, prayer, action, humor, and the ability to create silver linings. Their discussion also highlights the importance of social distancing for patients with a compromised immune system during COVID-19, the fast-paced nature of research at Dr. Fajgenbaum’s institute, and the advantages of drug repurposing. For more information on drug repurposing Dr. Fajgenbaum and his team are leading, please visit https://cdcn.org/drug-repurposing/.
Feb 24, 2020
Turning Passion Into a Career: Insights from a Physician and Industry Medical Director of AbbVie Pharmaceuticals, Charlotte Owens, MD, FACOG
In this episode, WCG’s President of Patient Advocacy, Steve Smith, talks with Dr. Charlotte Owens, MD, FACOG, Medical Director at AbbVie Pharmaceuticals, who works in the general medicine therapeutic area with a focus on women’s health. As a physician, Dr. Owens describes her passion for pursuing a career that’s truly helpful for others and her desire to educate women on how to bring healthy children into the world. As her career grew into the clinical trials industry, Dr. Owens shares how this passion for helping others grew simultaneously, especially as she saw how bringing new drugs and therapies to market is so impactful in taking care of patients all over the world.
Feb 13, 2020
Biostatistics and Biomarkers for the Reliability and Efficiency of Clinical Trials: A Conversation with Dr. Janet Wittes
In this episode, Dr. Janet Wittes, Founder and President of WCG Statistics Collaborative sits down with WCG’s President of Patient Advocacy, Steve Smith. Their conversation focuses on the importance of reliability and efficiency in clinical trials, and how biostatisticians work closely with clinicians and patients to help ensure clear results from trials. Moreover, they dive into how biomarkers can serve as surrogate endpoints for a trial, especially in the case of rare disease studies.
Feb 13, 2020
An Inside Look at the Role of Data Monitoring Committees with Dr. Jonathan Seltzer
In this episode, WCG’s President of Patient Advocacy, Steve Smith, interviews Dr. Jonathan Seltzer, MD, Chief Scientific Officer at WCG, expert on data safety monitoring boards, biomarkers, biostatistics, and clinical endpoints. During their conversation, Steve and Dr. Seltzer discuss how biomarkers are appropriate for the use of trials, especially when clinical data is tough to get. Part of this discussion turns to Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy (an inherited rare muscular disease) on how Patient Advocacy Groups are working with the FDA to define risk vs. benefit, and how promising a biomarker for this condition - as well as many other rare disorders - would be.
Feb 9, 2020
Julia Jenkins, EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases: Patient’s shape science-driven public policy
In this episode, Steve Smith, WCG President of Patient Advocacy sits down with Julia Jenkins of the EveryLife Foundation to discuss the impact her organization has on giving patients a voice to legislators on Capitol Hill. Julia shares how patient communities can advocate for public policy changes, improve the FDA-regulatory approval process, and educate on the effectiveness of different trial designs for rare disease drug development. Through their conversation, Steve and Julia underscore the importance of collaboration between all clinical trial stakeholders to improve the study process.
Feb 9, 2020
An Interview with Dr. Jeffrey Cooper: Clinical Trial Expert and Participant
In this episode, WCG’s President of Patient Advocacy, Steve Smith, interviews Dr. Jeffrey Cooper, MD, MMM, Vice President of Process & Strategic Improvement at WCG, expert in the conduct of clinical trials, and Parkinson’s patient himself. During their conversation, Steve and Dr. Cooper highlight the strides clinical research has made for many therapeutic areas and the promise research has for individuals across the globe. With a specific focus on Parkinson’s disease, Dr. Cooper dives into his journey as a clinical trial participant and shares his experience on finding a trial, getting enrolled into the study, and his time spent throughout the trial.
Jan 13, 2020
Ensuring Genetic Counseling is Incorporated Into the Patient Experience: An Interview with Sarah Zentack & Leslie Urdaneta
In this episode, WCG’s President of Patient Advocacy, Steve Smith, sits down with Sarah Zentack, a Certified Genetic Counselor at InformedDNA and Leslie Urdaneta, Family Support Coordinator at the National MPS Society. Their discussion highlights the importance of genetic counseling and the intelligence patients can gain to better understand their treatment options, ensure they’re receiving the correct information and interpretation of results, and feel empowered to make the right choices for their care options.
Jan 13, 2020
Sarah Tompkins, on having Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, having a mis-understood disease, taking a lead in advocacy
In this episode, Sarah Tompkins, Patient Advocate of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, chats with WCG’s President of Patient Advocacy, Steve Smith. During their discussion, Sarah shares with us her experience being a patient with a genetic rare disease who is involved in a clinical trial.
Jan 13, 2020
Mark Dant, pushing for research that saved his son’s life in the fight against MPS I and advocating for change
In this episode, Mark Dant, Founder of the Ryan Foundation speaks with Steve Smith, WCG’s President of Patient Advocacy. Their conversation highlights the importance of Patient Advocacy Groups – and the resources they bring to individuals diagnosed with a disease – as well as the great promise clinical trials bring to patients. Mark shares a personal story of his son, Ryan, who was diagnosed with MPS I, and how Patient Advocacy Groups and clinical trials have positively impacted their lives.
Jan 13, 2020
Developing Novel Treatments for Rare Disorders: A Look at MPS I with Dr. Emil Kakkis
In this episode, WCG’s President of Patient Advocacy, Steve Smith, talks with Emil Kakkis, MD, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of Ultragenyx Pharmaceuticals and President of the non-profit EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases organization. Known for his work in developing an enzyme replacement therapy for the rare disorder MPS I and his connection to the Ryan Foundation, Dr. Kakkis shares with us his experiences in being involved in bringing drugs to market and forming relationships with patients along the way.
Jan 13, 2020
Blazing New Trails in Rare Disease & CNS Clinical Studies: An Interview with Dr. Mark Opler
In this episode, Mark Opler, PhD, MPH, Chief Research Officer at WCG MedAvante-ProPhase sits down with Steve Smith, WCG’s President of Patient Advocacy to discuss the achievements in the field of CNS and rare disease clinical research. Dr. Opler and Steve highlight the unmet need of therapies available for rare disease, the importance of patient enrollment, ensuring efficacy and safety throughout a trial, and how time is of the essence in every study that is conducted.
Jan 13, 2020
An Inside Look at Angelman Syndrome Rare Disease: An Interview with Amanda Moore
In this episode, Amanda Moore, CEO of Angelman Syndrome Foundation speaks with Steve Smith, WCG’s President of Patient Advocacy. As a mom whose son has been diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome - a rare neuro-genetic disorder that affects 1 in 15,000 children - Amanda walks through the time from receiving initial diagnosis to the odyssey of her son’s patient journey in therapy and clinical trials.
Jan 13, 2020
The Role & Importance of Genetic Counselors to Patients: An Interview with Karmen Trzupek of InformedDNA
In this episode, Karmen Trzupek, MS, CGC, Director of Ocular & Rare Disease Genetic Services and Clinical Trial Services at InformedDNA sits down with WCG’s President of Patient Advocacy, Steve Smith. During their conversation, Karmen and Steve talk about the criticality of incorporating genetic counselors into the medical management of a patient’s genetic diagnosis.
Jan 13, 2020
Learning How to See Differently: An Interview with Kristin Smedley, President of the Curing Retinal Blindness Foundation
In this episode, Kristin Smedley sits down with President of WCG Patient Advocacy, Steve Smith, to talk about the journey her two children with retinal blindness have experienced. Known as the “happiest mom of two blind kids” and a powerful TEDx talker, Kristin highlights the CRB1 rare genetic degenerative disease both of her boys are affected with. She underscores the importance of genetic diagnosis and shares the impact clinical trials and patient advocacy groups have had in finding a cure for this disease.
Nov 18, 2019
Chasing My Cure: an Interview with Dr. Fajgenbaum
In this episode, WCG’s President of Patient Advocacy, Steve Smith, sits down for an interview with Dr. David Fajgenbaum, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Author of Chasing My Cure: A Doctor’s Race to Turn Hope Into Action. In this podcast, you’ll hear Steve and Dr. Fajgenbaum discuss what it’s like to be a patient of a rare disease – in this case Castleman’s disease – and Dr. Fajgenbaum’s fight to find a cure for his own disease. This is a story of incredible courage and uniquely acquired wisdom. It is a story of triumph over adversity. And it’s a story of life changing, groundbreaking hope.
Aug 13, 2019
The State of Clinical Trials in Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders with Dr. Scott Hunter
What’s the state of clinical trials in autism and neurodevelopmental disorders? What’s on the horizon? Scott J. Hunter, PhD, a member of WCG’s Scientific Leadership Team, shared his insights during a recent conversation with Mark Opler, MD, PhD, Chief Research Officer at WCG-MedAvante-ProPhase. Dr. Hunter is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience, as well as pediatrics, at the University of Chicago.
Jul 5, 2019
The New Paradigm of Patient Recruitment: an interview with Mark Summers
Despite advances in science and technology, we still see that 80% of clinical trials are running behind on their enrollment timeline. Mark Summers, Founder of WCG ThreeWire, and President of Patient Engagement at WCG, shares his insights on the current industry model of patient recruitment and the philosophy behind the new patient recruitment paradigm. *Things you will learn in this podcast:* * Shortcomings of the current industry model of patient recruitment * How to better plan for and deploy patient recruitment strategies * How to find the most reliable and resource effective patients * The economic philosophy of planning and deploying a patient recruitment program
May 2, 2019
Exciting Developments in Psychopharmacology in 2019 with guest Andrew Cutler, MD
Dr. Andrew J. Cutler shares his insights on the current challenges and opportunities for CNS therapies during an energizing conversation with Dr. Mark Opler, Chief Research Officer at WCG MedAvante-ProPhase. Dr. Cutler is a member of WCG’s Scientific Leadership Team, and a recognized expert in CNS therapies and clinical trials. Dr. Cutler is a sought-after speaker about the evaluation and treatment of mental illnesses such as ADHD, Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depression), Major Depression, Anxiety Disorders and Schizophrenia. He conducts clinical trials for Phase I-IV studies. Indications include ADHD in children, adolescents and adults, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric and medical conditions. In addition to being the Chief Medical Officer for Meridien Research, Dr. Cutler is a Courtesy Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Florida.
Apr 27, 2019
The Role of Expert Committees in Clinical Research with guest Jonathan Seltzer, MD, MBA, MA, FACC
Dr. Seltzer, president and founder of ACI Clinical, and chief scientific officer of WCG Clinical, shared his insights on expert committees during a recent conversation with Bill Stedman, manager, member services, ACI Clinical.
Apr 18, 2019
The Most Pressing Challenges and Opportunities in Pain Research with guest Nathaniel Katz, MD, MS
Dr. Katz, Chief Science Officer and the founder of Analgesic Solutions, shared his insights during a recent conversation with Mark Opler, MD, PhD, Chief Research Officer at WCG’s MedAvante-ProPhase. WCG recently acquired Analgesic Solutions.
Mar 27, 2019
Important Trends in CNS Clinical Trials in 2019 with guest Cristoph Correll, MD
Christoph U. Correll, MD, a member of WCG’s Scientific Leadership Team, shared his thoughts in a recent conversation with Mark Opler, MD, PhD, chief research officer at WCG-MedAvante-ProPhase. Dr. Correll is both a clinical psychiatrist (for both adults and children) and a clinical scientist. His work focuses on the identification, characterization and treatment of adults and youths with severe psychiatric disorders. His particular area of expertise is psychopharmacology.
Mar 6, 2019
The Most Pressing Challenges in Psychiatry Clinical Trials with Leslie Citrome, MD, MPH
Leslie Citrome, MD, MPH, a member of WCG’s Scientific Leadership Team, shared his insights during a recent conversation with Mark Opler, MD, PhD, chief research officer at WCG-MedAvante-ProPhase. Dr. Citrome has a private practice and is clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at New York Medical College in Valhalla.