Impactful insights: Health Equity in Clinical Trials case competition brings new ideas

Team from Rutgers Business School places 2nd in inaugural event sponsored by BioNJ

A team of students from the Rutgers Business School recently took second place in the inaugural Health Equity in Clinical Trials MBA Business Plan Case Competition, sponsored by BioNJ and held at Rutgers Business School.

BioNJ officials said the case competition is part of a broader strategic initiative of Health Equity in Clinical Trials.

The Business Plan Case Competition was designed to promote the next generation of diverse clinical trial innovators and identify innovative approaches and successful models that can be used nationally to strengthen diversity in clinical trials and expand health equity.

Eight teams, from schools across the country but mainly the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, competed for more than $20,000 in prize money. They were tasked with developing a business plan defining a new solution, application or technology to help address this important and challenging problem.

Each team was comprised of 4-5 diverse, crossdisciplinary students from MBA and other allied graduate programs. Each team focused on one therapeutic area of its choice. The teams had spoken to patients, patient groups, physicians, clinicians, etc., in their research for their plans.

During the competition, live pitch presentations were made to a panel of judges comprised of industry experts.

A look at the three winning teams:

  • First place: Johns Hopkins University ($10,000). The team focused its plan on increasing representation in clinical trials for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease through community engagement strategies and the use of digital tools.
  • Second Place: Rutgers Business School ($7,000). The team focused its plan on using population health and real-world data analytics to calculate health equity targets specific to clinical trial sites in prostate cancer.
  • Third Place: Baylor College of Medicine, Northwestern University & Rice University ($3,500): The team focused its plan on increasing Hispanic/Latinx involvement in clinical trials by training community health care workers from refugee and immigrant populations.

Dr. Amadou Diarra, a senior vice president at Bristol Myers Squibb, BioNJ board member and chair of the BioNJ Health Equity in Clinical Trials initiative, said the competition can have real-world impact.

“There is an urgent need to bring more diversity to clinical trials in order to better serve patients and their communities … thereby helping to address health inequities,” he said, “Only by improving diversity in clinical trials will we be able to deepen our understanding of the safety and efficacy of medicines for all populations. I am extremely proud of our teams.

“Each of the business plans offered a unique out-of-the-box solution, helping advance our ambition to have no patient left behind.”

BioNJ CEO Debbie Hart said the event matches the mission and vision of the organization.

“BioNJ’s mission is to help our members help patients,” she said. “It is with the vision of health equity for all that BioNJ launched our Health Equity in Clinical Trials Strategic Initiative, of which the MBA Business Plan Competition is one of three important workstreams.

A white paper with all of the presentations will be published in April and rolled out during BioNJ’s BioPartnering Conference. The three winning teams will present their plans.

The contestants:

  • University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
  • Baylor College of Medicine, Northwestern University & Rice University
  • Columbia University
  • Dartmouth (Tuck School of Business)
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Rutgers Business School
  • Temple University