BioNJ announces launch of Health Equity in Clinical Trials Initiative

Committed to the vision of “Health Equity for All,” BioNJ recently announced the launch of its Health Equity in Clinical Trials Initiative.

Clinical trials are the source of every new therapy. They represent a $15.2 billion enterprise in the U.S. alone. Yet, for all their promise, substantial inequities in clinical trial enrollment limit the benefits to society at large, especially for people from historically marginalized groups that are underrepresented in clinical research.

“Health equity in clinical trials is critical to deepening the understanding of the safety and efficacy of medicines in underrepresented populations, expanding access to medical innovation for these populations and increasing dialogue among the biopharma industry, communities and health systems,” Amadou Diarra, senior vice president, global policy, advocacy & government affairs for Bristol Myers Squibb, BioNJ board member and chair of the BioNJ Health Equity in Clinical Trials Initiative, stated. “The life sciences sector plays a major role in addressing equity of care, and BMS is dedicated to ensuring that no patient is left behind. We are a proud supporter of BioNJ’s Health Equity in Clinical Trials Initiative.”

An important workstream of the Health Equity in Clinical Trials Initiative is an MBA Business Plan Case Competition with the goal to promote the next generation of diverse clinical trial innovators and identify revolutionizing business models. Participating teams — each representing 4-5 diverse, crossdisciplinary students from an MBA and other allied graduate programs — will contribute innovative, out-of-the-box ideas to improve health equity and transform clinical trials.

“By discovering new approaches, utilizing new technologies and developing new business standards to make trials more accessible, we can work to create more agile, efficient and patient-centered medical research,” the BioNJ chair and chair and CEO of Insmed, Will Lewis, stated. “The competition will include a Boot Camp on Clinical Trials for the students and provide cash prizes for winning teams, as well as opportunities for students to network with industry executives from global life sciences companies that are working to develop and deliver better treatments for common and rare diseases.”

In addition to the Business Case Competition, key deliverables from BioNJ’s Health Equity in Clinical Trials Initiative include:

  • New Jersey Baseline: BioNJ will partner with a variety of organizations with expertise in clinical trials recruitment to develop as clear a picture as possible of the current state of demographic representation in clinical trials throughout New Jersey and identify strategies to achieve more equitable access and participation.
  • Collecting & Connecting the Dots: BioNJ will create a publicly accessible virtual health equity portal featuring the work of innovator companies to increase information flow and collaboration between and amongst companies. There is currently no unified platform through which companies can share strategies and publicize their initiatives.
Debbie Hart. (File photo)

“I’d like to thank our steering committee, industry supporters and volunteers,” BioNJ CEO and President Debbie Hart said. “BioNJ and our partners, which include Bristol Myers Squibb, Medidata, Amicus Therapeutics, PTC Therapeutics, Sanofi, Insmed, PsychoGenics, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Crowley Law, are dedicated to helping patients live longer better lives. Our goal is to deliver useful protocols and successful models that can be used nationally to strengthen diversity in clinical trials and expand health equity.”

“There is an urgent need to innovate clinical trials to better serve patients and address gaps in health care delivery,” Paul Howard, BioNJ Business Case Competition Steering Committee chair and senior director, public policy, for Amicus Therapeutics, said. “As a global, patient-centric biotech company, Amicus is proud to be part of this important initiative. In particular, the Business Case Competition allows for out-of-the-box thinking by diverse, crossfunctional teams to develop solutions or technologies that bring clinical trials to varied populations while allowing for stronger patient engagement and retention.”

The MBA Business Plan Case Competition will feature two events in New Jersey: a boot for the competing teams on Oct. 29, and an in-person pitch event on Dec. 3.

To learn how to get involved and become a supporter of BioNJ’s Health Equity in Clinical Trials Initiative, contact Debbie Hart at For more information on the program, click here.