"We have to be intentional in order to design our trials so that we have a better participation of those groups," says Larissa V. Rodriguez, MD.
In this interview, Larrisa V. Rodríguez, MD, reaps the symposium, “Challenges for Urologic Research Symposium: Overcoming Health Disparities in Urologic Research,” which took place at the 2023 American Urological Association Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois. Rodríguez is the chair of urology at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, New York.
Could you recap the discussions from that symposium?
That was a really great symposium; it is the first time that the symposium [took] place at the American Urological Association [Meeting]. We're really hoping that it will be an open conversation that we do every year. It was really a symposium organized by the AUA Office of Research to look at barriers to advancing urologic research due to the lack of diversity and participation of multiple racial groups, different ethnicities, and particular minoritized groups in research and clinical trials. There were a number of speakers. Some of them were guests to the American Urological Association. Some were members. [All] really looking at different aspects of “how do we increase the participation of individuals in clinical trials?”. I particularly spoke about correlative science, which is when you take a biomarker from a clinical trial, and you have some phenotypic information on patients to try to really not only find new targets for therapy, but also narrow down which patients might benefit from a particular therapy. To be able to do that, you need a big participation of different individuals. Otherwise, you only are benefiting a few by doing that research.
What are some of the barriers to expanding diversity in urologic research?
A lot of trials happen in a major academic medical centers, and some populations don't go to major academic medical centers. You need to be insured in many of them, and if you're not insured, you're really not a participant. So, there is a limitation there. There are some vulnerable populations that have mistrust of research in their population, because of historic events where their groups have been victimized by medical research in the past, so they're really not trusting of that relationship. Other reasons are that sometimes we don't have the culturally appropriate materials to recruit individuals, or the sensitivity to go to different populations and recruit them. There is a number of different barriers that we can overcome, but we have to be intentional in order to design our trials so that we have a better participation of those groups.
This transcription has been edited for clarity.