Saving Black Lives: The Cancer Care Gap

Mar 27 8:45am | Kanaaz Pereira, Connect Moderator | @kanaazpereira

In a health care industry where Black people are statistically more likely to develop and die from many forms of cancers compared to whites, Drs. Folakemi Odedina and Alyx Porter are working daily on initiatives to close the gaps. In this wide-ranging discussion about Black representation in cancer care, the two talk to RISE for Equity Host Lee Hawkins about strategies for mobilizing communities and fostering workforce diversity to improve outcomes.

“I grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona. It wasn’t as diverse then as it is now. The Cosby Show, and then later, A Different World, was what I looked forward to, to see a family that sort of resembled mine. That was my first visualization of the fact that a Black person could be a doctor. Seeing that fictional character of Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, I started to imagine what a life could be like if I had the starring role as a physician.” – Alyx Porter, M.D.

“We know about how people are perceived when they go into a health care system, how they are treated. I owe it to them as an educator, a Black woman. I’ve faced it and I’ve experienced it right in the healthcare system. And it’s just unfortunate that sometimes I have to throw my doctor title around to be able to get what I need.” – Folakemi Odedina, Ph.D.

“Black history is being made every day, every single day in different sectors. We see people, men and women, who are making a difference based on their contribution and deciding that they’re going to pursue all of the work that needs to be done inside of organizations and making a difference.” – Lee Hawkins

Read the transcript:

Lee Hawkins: Welcome to Mayo Clinic’s Rise for Equity podcast. My name is Lee Hawkins and I’m your host. And in this episode we’re talking about equity in cancer care and research, specifically focusing today on the African-American community and the disparities there. Our guests are Dr. Folakemi T. Odedina, who is deputy director of the Mayo Clinic’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, Community Outreach and Engagement and also Dr. Alyx Porter, who is a neurooncologist with Mayo Clinic and a medical director for the outpatient practice in Arizona and the CNS Disease Group co-chair for Mayo Clinic’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Welcome to both of you.

Dr. Alyx Porter: Thank you so much.

Lee Hawkins: I want to talk to you about Black representation in cancer care and how closing the gap can save lives. So let’s start out first by spelling out some of the alarming disparities – the things that keep you up at night, the issues that really stand out.

Dr. Folakemi Odedina: So thank you again for inviting me to this program. One of the things that really keeps me up at night are those statistics with Blacks in general -when it comes to cancer, they really are the most disproportionately affected by cancer. I’ll give you examples. Starting with breast cancer. White women are more likely to get breast cancer compared to Black women. But, alarmingly, Black women are more likely to die from the disease and get the aggressive form of the disease and get it at an early age.

Another thing that really keeps me up at night, which I’ve spent thirty years of my career studying, is actually prostate cancer. Black men, whether within or outside the United States, are more likely to get prostate cancer. They are more likely to die from the prostate cancer. They are more likely to get the aggressive form of prostate cancer. They are more likely to get it at a lower age. And also they are less likely to participate in clinical trials that actually inform us about the intervention for prostate cancer. We see that also in colorectal cancer. We see also that in pancreatic cancer. So cancer is a huge burden within a community.

Dr. Alyx Porter: I think quite a lot about neuro-oncology and cancers that impact the brain and the central nervous system. And we know that the most aggressive form of brain cancer does not discriminate. However, populations of color often present later with larger tumors, and are unable to have complete resections, which we know is one of the keys towards a longer survival with that sort of tumor.

And less often, as Dr. Odedina mentioned, they participate in clinical trials. And so when I think about what keeps me up at night and what I’ve dedicated a lot of my career to is how we might be able to influence eradicating health disparities from a workforce perspective, because we know when we have physicians that reflect the population, that is being cared for, there’s a much more likely establishment of trust, much more quickly.

There’s much more likely adherence to treatment, which ultimately leads to improved outcomes. So that’s really where I’ve dedicated a lot of my time and energy – workforce development, workforce diversity, and that comes through pathway programs. That comes through being intentional about mentorship and career development. But certainly we have to figure out a way to make cancer care in general more inclusive, such that we’re able to care for all people because we recognize these diseases don’t discriminate.

Lee Hawkins: And I just want to reinforce Dr. Odedina, and I know that your experience really centers on the experience of Black men and global disparities. I want to read some of these points here that are just so, so powerful. (Black men have the) lowest life expectancy compared to white men and women and Black women. They are less likely to be able to access health care, less likely to be screened for cancer, and less likely to have the best treatment for cancer.

(They have the) highest prostate cancer incidence. Highest mortality rates. Prostate cancer seems to be the most egregious of these areas, even though it’s one of the most treatable forms. So let’s talk about prostate cancer. Why do Black men die at disproportionately higher rates compared to everybody else?

Dr. Folakemi Odedina: Everything that you said is correct. So let’s take a step back and let’s ask yourself, what are the risk factors? What is causing this? We know that this is your family history. We know that is an issue of genetic etiology of the disease. We know there is the issue of age. And one of the things that we also know that is depressing is that prostate cancer is one of those few chronic conditions that being a Black man is actually listed as a risk factor for prostate cancer regardless of where you are.

And so there are really things that affect it on a multiple level. So even let’s put aside the family history, put aside the genetic etiology of the disease. You talked about assessing the social determinants of health factors, which is where we live, where we are, where we work.

They really contribute to the disparities that we see. But in addition to that, we have multiple factors that contribute to (these problems at the) health care systems level. Are we taking care of it? Are we ensuring that we assess this? There are problems at the provider level and that includes discrimination, racism and not being able to tailor the care to Black men and not making sure that they really are getting the best treatment or they are being informed to make good decisions about screening.

And then at the international level as well, there’s quite a lot of things that are going on in our Black community. We have a deficiency of vitamin D. We have the issue that we don’t trust the health care provider. So we don’t go.

One of the things that concerns me the most is the fact that we thought that we were making progress. But we still have all these issues about prostate cancer screening controversies and the fact that is not seen as something that we want to talk to men about and make informed decisions.

You know what is now happening? There’s an uptick in advanced prostate cancer among Black men. I mean, it’s rising up. And this is because we really didn’t sit down to do the homework and figure out: let’s see, what are the differences in Black males? What is unique to Black men and how we need to deal with it?

Now we’re going back. And the disadvantage among Black men is not going away.

Lee Hawkins: Well, is one of the reasons because the diagnosis is now harder? I think in a previous conversation I told you that I recently had a colonoscopy and asked my doctor, should I get my PSA level checked because my father had prostate cancer? And he said, Well, PSA has been found to not be effective in diagnosing it. And so has that made it harder?

Dr. Folakemi Odedina: That is one of the things that has been documented in the literature: the prostate cancer screening controversy is now contributing to advanced disease of prostate cancer in Black men. And this is a decision that needs to be made between the Black man and their physician. But (health care providers) need to do due diligence and listen to what you are saying when you said that you have a family history. That’s number one. You are a Black man. That’s number two.  Let’s make the decision together and make the right decision that is actually best for the for the Black men. I’m very concerned about the uptick that we’re now having with the advanced disease in Black men.

One of the things that we have done very well at Mayo Clinic is to develop very strong partnership with not only organizations within the community, but also the health system within the community to be able to make sure that we are there.  I can mention, you know, the Urban League, the Medical Institute Network of Black physicians, barbershops, hairdressing salon. One of the ones we actually wrote a grant together that we just submitted yesterday that I’m really, truly proud about is the American Legion. People are going to go the American Legion. The American Legion is the largest nonprofit veterans organizations within the United States. There are thousands of American Legion posts within our community. Guess where they most of them are? They are in rural areas. They are in minority communities. They are a marginalized communities. This is there structure. And their mission already is to be able to provide social services for for veterans, their family members, but also to take care of their community.

So what has Mayo Clinic done? Mayo Clinic reached out to them to partner with them about building health systems that can help inform, navigate, care for Black communities. This is what we are doing in Jacksonville, and it is really flourishing. You know, we just had a tweet about it and the national body of the American Legion reached out to us and said, we want to replicate this. Talk to us more about this project.

So there are unique places. This is where we say that for those of us who are building interventions, who truly want to care about minorities and marginalized communities, the solutions cannot only be where we are. This solution also needs to involve going to where they are and making sure that this a sustainable solutions within those communities.

Lee Hawkins: And Dr. Porter, in our conversations, we’ve talked a lot about limited representation and recruitment and retention and not just in the workforce, but also seeing limited representation in clinical trials around cancer and populations being studied. We have an incomplete understanding of how different populations experience disease or react to various interventions. Correct?

Dr. Alyx Porter: Correct. It’s a real challenge. What I practice within neuro-oncology (cancer) is still considered a rare disease. So it’s less likely that people will develop a brain tumor than it is that they may have breast cancer or prostate cancer, as we were just discussing. And so when you’re talking about rare diseases, that becomes even more important to make sure that we have broad representation, because unfortunately, we know that there are limitations in terms of what drugs cross the blood brain barrier and impact the brain cancer.

But if we don’t have all folks participating in the trials, we don’t even have the understanding of what might work in certain populations and what additional side effects might be encountered in certain populations. And so that’s why we’re really working hard, not just at Mayo Clinic, but within the Society for Neuro-Oncology to look at some of the eligibility criteria for these clinical trials so that we’re being more inclusive in terms of understanding how people experience disease.

One of the things that’s a real challenge within clinical trials is we have this measure called performance status. Oftentimes you want people who are very, very well to be able to participate in the clinical trial. Well, the truth is, not everybody with cancer is very, very well. And so what would that look like if we broaden the criteria and performance status so that it really looks like the patients who we take care of every day, rather than limiting to this very small population, so that we can understand the spectrum of disease and not just one sliver. It’s something that we’re working on across the board.

Lee Hawkins: Okay. Before we get into talking about recruitment and retention,  let’s just be straight up about the tension in this. Right. Why did these disparities exist?

Dr. Folakemi Odedina: Let’s just be clear that this process is just because of the historical context of what people have gone through, and what they’re going through. We know about Tuskegee, right? We know about all the ways in which human subjects are not being treated appropriately. And so with that, we also know about mistrust within the community.

We know about how people are perceived when they go into a health care system, how they are treated. As a Black woman. I’ve faced it and I’ve experienced it right in the healthcare system. And it’s just unfortunate that sometimes I have to throw my doctor title around to be able to get what I need.

So we have this historical context. But what I try to tell my colleagues is that it’s not only about that historical context, it’s about what people are experiencing right now. Ine of the experiences that I had:  I went into a new clinic and I walked into the door and the person said: oh, we stopped taking Medicaid. True story.

But how do you even know I’m on Medicaid?  I’m a letter writer. So I had to write a letter to get that fixed. You know, up till now my husband does not feel very comfortable going into a health care system. This is somebody that had two degrees. And when I’m around I would just say talk to the doctor and get me on the phone. So there’s quite a huge issue in which there is really a little bit of that trust issue. Now, combine it with clinical trials.

Lee Hawkins: And we know that it’s through conferences like this that we begin to address unconscious bias within majority population doctors. But what about also getting more doctors of color into the pipeline? And that’s where I wanted to shift, because you said you can’t be what you can’t see. So let let’s shift and talk about the program that you’ve started that aims to begin to help get more doctors into the pipeline. Tell me about it.

Dr. Alyx Porter: Thank you. “You can’t be what you can’t see” really is a quote that I’ve used time and time again from Marian Wright Edelman. And I believe that it’s true. While there are many of us that are firsts in all kinds of ways, and we’ve had to plot our own paths – certainly we know that there are some experiences that are much more easily had if you have mentors who look like you, who can tell you where the pitfalls are or how to navigate certain waters. And when we talk about representation in the physician workforce I mentioned before, disease does not discriminate. When I think about the number of Black people practicing neurology, we’re talking about one percent or so. When I think about the number of Black people practicing neuro-oncology I’m one of four Black women in this country. I’m the most senior of the Black women in this country that practice neuro-oncology. We all should seek an ideal where the workforce reflects the population cared for. I can tell you there are times when I’ve walked into a patient room and have been met with tears because the person has waited to see me or wanted to see me, someone who looks like them, who understands their disease and how impactful that was for them.

And it throws me off a bit because I’m not necessarily looking at what their demographics are when I’m reviewing their chart and everything else. And so I can’t underscore enough the importance of feeling seen and feeling valued and heard within the workplace. We owe it to our patients. We owe it to our communities to have a workforce that reflects that.

The organization that I founded is called Elevate Med. We launched in 2019, really with the intentionality behind it, to elevate medicine to an ideal where the workforce reflects the population. And so I’ve been thinking about this idea for quite some time. I was scared. I tried to talk myself out of it and thought I might need extra degrees or something else to be able to make this work.

But the truth is, the degrees that I have and my experience gave me what I needed to be able to launch this organization and bring the mission and the vision forward. We wanted to be able to influence medical students, such that we’re liberating them from their debt and starting to get them to see themselves beyond what they might be able to see in close proximity.

We want to give them not just tuition based scholarships to offset their medical school debt, but we also want to give them mentorship. And so some of the mentorship is in the form of let’s pair you with someone who looks like you, who does what you believe you want to do. Some of the mentorship is less formal and that we’ve created a password protected portion of our website that has a database of mentors.

How can you know that you want to be a pathologist if you’ve never heard of one before? And so we’ve created a list of various specialties that these students may have never been exposed to, recognizing that they can send an email or text or call any of the people on that database because they want to hear from them and to start to engage.

(Another) part of our program is financial wellness education. We know that medical students from underrepresented backgrounds are graduating from medical school with higher levels of indebtedness than their white counterparts. Similarly, they’re also graduating from undergraduate with higher levels of indebtedness, not just within Mayo Clinic, but within health care. We know that women and people of color are not paid equally compared to their white counterparts.

So when you deal with the higher levels of indebtedness, plus the decreased earning potential and the fact that many of us come from cultures where we have financial obligations that extend beyond our immediate households, we really do need to teach our young people, teach our medical students how to be good stewards of the wages that they’re earning so that they can continue to use that to empower themselves and generations to come, which is something that has not been a privilege for most of us who have been first in our family.

And then the fourth part of our program is leadership development. Physicians really are leaders in whatever spaces they hold. And so these are the things that are critically important when you’re developing young physicians that don’t get taught in medical school. My husband and I both felt that this was a significant gap that we faced in our medical school matriculation. We wanted to fill that gap. And so that’s why it’s called Elevate Med.

Lee Hawkins: What’s really powerful about what I hear you saying is that these are things that can be addressed by organizations. For instance, you talked about the disparity in pay. Well, every organization in this country can do a comprehensive overview of the salary system. What are we paying women? What are we paying people of color? That’s those are things that could be done right now.

Your organization is great. But also, can you enlist the support of some of these other organizations and advocate for them to be held accountable in the same ways? Mayo has made a big commitment: a $100,000,000 – 10-year commitment.

Dr. Alyx Porter: Yeah, that’s true. And Mayo Clinic is unique in that we’re salaried. The physicians are salaried. That’s not the case in other places. And that’s where there’s a higher likelihood for pay inequity. That’s one area where Mayo Clinic has led for other health care organizations to follow. But you’re absolutely right, especially when we talk about needing folks in subspecialties like mine and doing some of the work that Dr. Odedina does.

When you have such high levels of indebtedness, you’re less inclined to do a longer residency training program. And so really, when we talk about structures that continue to perpetuate certain groups moving forward, this problem that we have right now, where becoming a doctor is a privilege of the wealthy is significant. We have to fix that. 60% of medical students now are coming from families in the top 20th percentile of the wealth index. Three percent of medical students now are coming from families from the lowest 20th percentile. So what does that mean? If you’re wealthy, you can go to medical school and then you can continue to treat people from the environment that you’re accustomed to because of the culture that you were brought up in. That’s not to say that people who come from wealthy backgrounds aren’t willing to serve in underserved areas, but we deserve to provide a workforce that looks like the population.

And so I ask the question again, what can we do to influence some of those structures that are in place that continue to perpetuate some of the disparities and some of that work has to happen in the educational space as well?

Lee Hawkins:  I want to demystify the idea of what it took for you as a little Black girl decide to decide to become what you became. So, first of all, I’ll start with you, Dr. Porter, because you said that The Cosby Show was a big influence, and you also had a teacher who inspired you and encouraged you to go to an HBCU, Spelman College. Tell me about that.

Dr. Alyx Porter:  I grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona, and it wasn’t as diverse then as it is now. And so really, Thursday night TV was my main diversity and The Cosby Show, and then later, A Different World was what I looked forward to, to see a family that sort of resembled mine. And that was my first (inspiration), a fictional character.

That was my first visualization of the fact that a Black person could be a doctor. I don’t have any doctors in my family. And so in that fictional character of Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, I started to imagine what a life could be like, where I had the starring role as a physician.

And as I continue to matriculate through school, I had taken on kind of the moniker of being the smart Black girl. It was a very white high school. I think (there were) probably 2500 students and maybe there were five or six of us that were Black, something like that. And so when it came to choosing colleges, I was very clear that I wanted to attend Spelman College, which is a historically Black women’s college in Atlanta, Georgia.

But the high school counselors had never heard of Spelman. They said, well, you’re smart enough. You could even apply to Stanford. You know, somewhere on the West Coast was what they were more familiar with. And it just so happened that my calculus teacher had heard an interview from Spelman professor on NPR around the same time, and he left a book on my desk from one of the Spelman professors and said: This is where you need to go to college.

And so I’m so grateful for those people who have leaned in along the way to help ensure my success, because certainly while I mentioned I never had the privilege of being mentored by a Black woman neuro-oncologist, certainly I’ve had wonderful people who don’t look like me, who don’t do what I do and who have encouraged me along the way.

Lee Hawkins: And they haven’t always been women. Sometimes or a lot of times it’s been white men and Asian men.

Dr. Alyx Porter: That’s true

Lee Hawkins: What does that say about the importance of allyship?

Dr. Alyx Porter: You know, I just can’t stress enough the fact that when we think about diversity and inclusion and belonging, I think historically people would marginalize those concepts and think that it’s the diverse people that need to figure out that diversity stuff. The truth is, it means something for all of us. And so I am grateful for the folks, as I said, that don’t look like me, that don’t share my same gender, who have seen some talent and some potential in me that they felt was worthwhile to invest their time and talent in.

I bring that up frequently because people need to know that help can come from all directions. But what I’ve learned thus far is when you put yourself out there, as uncomfortable as that can be, when you’re the only one or you’re the first one or the new one, when people see you make that effort, they will meet you more than halfway.

But we have to be willing to put ourselves out there. And when you’re coming from an underrepresented group, that can be a really, really hard, uncomfortable place to be. But also, I think to be successful, you have to be comfortable with being a little uncomfortable.

Lee Hawkins: You raise a good point when you’re at the highest echelon of your field and you’re a person of color, a lot of times disproportionately you’re being relied upon to do the panels and to do the recruitment and to do the diversity which can be fatiguing and you’re not getting paid extra for doing that.

There’s no understanding among some people that they could be doing this, too. So that’s a powerful point. (Dr. Odedina) I want to talk to you about how you became a doctor and from that, if you can reflect on when you were a little girl.

Dr. Folakemi Odedina: Yeah, well, so I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, and so it was all Black people. So I didn’t have that issue. But there was class issue, right? I grew up in a home where my parents were not college educated, very low socioeconomic status from when I was young. I knew that we were not rich, we were poor.

I had a dad who it was orphaned at the age of nine, He was passed around family so he didn’t have a chance. He knew that all his kids were going to get educated. And that was the number one thing. One of the other things that was very unique about my dad, he focused more on the females and he wanted all of us to get educated. He said the two girls that I have, they’re going to be at the highest place that anybody could ever imagined. And he was tough sometimes, but he knew that that was where we needed to be.

My interest (in health care) actually went back to seeing my mom, who is who was asthmatic, not being able to breathe throughout the night. We don’t have money for her to go to the hospital. So from when I was young, I knew what disparities were. I knew that was what my mom was. And I knew that I wanted to do something that was kind of different.

But my (original) path was when I was growing up, I wanted to become a petrol engineer. I said I was going to become the first Nigerian woman petroleum engineer, and I was going to have so much money. I can take care of everybody. But my mom, when I was submitting my college application, said so I’ll do the college application for you. Then I was admitted into pharmacist school. I was like what happened?

I didn’t even put in for pharmacist school. My mom put pharmacy there because when she was growing up, where did she didn’t have money, she did not have enough money to go to the local pharmacies to get the drug that she needed for asthma. So she said, one of my girls is going to become a pharmacist and only go to pharmacy school. That way I don’t have to worry about my asthma. So that was what my background was.

But, you know pharmacy was not my first choice. I practiced for four years and like, no, I hated it. So I decided to get my PhD, and that’s when I realized the only area I wanted to get a Ph.D. was focus on addressing health disparities and being able to take care of the community.

And so I looked at England first. There were no programs there, but I had two brothers in the United States and one of them said: The University of Florida has a great Ph.D Program. They have something that is focused in the area that you’re interested. So that’s how I crossed over, right?

Well, at the University of Florida, there was no single Black person, no Black professors to help me. It was actually a white female and a white man (who helped me). There’s one of them who is still I still call my mentor today, who really was great. So we need those allies. We really, really do need someone by your side. And I like what you mentioned about a “diversity tax” because sometimes we get into display (of who we are) and we are supposed to do it. I always say this is so important that we look back and we advance other people – people like us. I’ve been talking to people for thirty years. I think I’m able to do it and promote the younger people who are right this year. I don’t have to do it. I take it on because what is so important is to be able to advance and to be able to champion other people.

Similar to the program that you have, we have NCI funded programs, at Mayo Clinic that instead of the clinician, it focuses on research. We have diverse programs across Mayo Clinic that actually reach back to high school colleges and HBCU and take them and bring them to me to learn about research. I currently have about fifteen right now at Mayo Clinic doing some of my research – prostate cancer, breast cancer and all of them tend to do cancer disparities research. So the ability for us to really create that opportunity is very huge.

Lee Hawkins: It is just an honor and a distinct privilege to have you both on this podcast. I wish we had more time, but thank you so much. Is there anything that I didn’t ask that I should have asked to put this into proper perspective?

Dr. Alyx Porter: I do believe the future is bright, the time that we’re practicing in is unique, and that through the pandemic the fact that now the light has really illuminated health disparities in certain pockets, why they exist, what access and what limited resources can do, how different groups have different outcomes with the same disease. That’s now a household topic because of what we’ve seen with COVID.

And then when you accompany that with the conversation and truly the reckoning that we’ve had with race in America because of the murder of George Floyd and so many others, I think that the timing of everything coming together does in some ways make me hopeful that we will see some change within our career time, because conversations like this one are being had much more regularly than they’ve ever been had.

People are engaging in this space that, as I mentioned previously, was thought just for the marginalized, but now we recognize that these strategies have to be interwoven within their mission of our health care organizations, because once we start talking about it, we’re able to then start to fix some of those structural things that have perpetuated these inequities over time.

And so the responsibility truly is all of ours. But because of this particular time, I do think that we have an opportunity to really see change. And I believe that we’ll see it within our career time but we have so much work to do.

Lee Hawkins: You’ve hit on a good point. I mean, ten years ago this is a conversation that we would be having at maybe a gala for the American Medical Association and we’d be off in the corner sitting with all the Black people. Now, it’s a conversation is starting to come into the mainstream with Mayo being a leader. Am I right about that?

Dr. Folakemi Odedina: It is. You know, I could not agree with both of you more. It has come into the mainstream. (We had waves decades ago), but then nothing happens. But, you know, with George Floyd, with police brutality, with COVID – because COVID allowed us, we were like sitting at home and we couldn’t go anywhere.

So we’re watching everything unfold. I think it’s come to the point that it is only going to get better, and I’m very excited about this. Also, there are a lot of organizations and institutions that are now realizing that this is not just about talk, this is about reality as well.

This is what we need to do. I want to end by saying that I am so proud of what Mayo Clinic is doing. I’m going to tell you, I am very well deep in our community, and the community is noticing what Mayo is doing and the door is opening. (They say:) “You know what I hear? I hear there is the browning of Mayo.”

With the browning of Mayo, there is a change in Mayo. And we are seeing more and more things being done within the community. This is a great thing. And then they hear about the money the media put into diversity. You know, inclusion and health equity and they are like, wow. And people are then seen. So for example, in Florida, they see that money come into the community.

Now that is important. That is important because of what we are doing across our sites in ensuring that we are building partners and making sure that that money is being used by our partners within their community. That opens really a lot of doors. I just want to tell you that participation in clinical trials is very important, is very critical.

I go all over the world and I talk about the need for different populations to participate in clinical trials. And I want to tell you that I know you may be skeptical. Look for somebody that you can trust and know that you deserve it. It is not about the institution, you deserve for our population to participate in clinical trials so that the therapies and the interventions can be tailored to us.

Thing about it, if you are taking a drug that zero Black person participated in, you are the guinea pig without being watched. That is the problem right there. So that to me is something that I feel like for next ten years or less that I want to spend time to do. I’m making sure that our communities are fully engaged and know that they deserve to be part of the trials that brings the best therapy and the best interventions and the best devices to our communities.

Lee Hawkins:  Black history is being made every day, every single day in different sectors. We see people, men and women, who are making a difference based on their contribution and deciding that they’re going to pursue all of the work that needs to be done inside of organizations and making a difference.

And you are really, really proving that with the work you’re doing today. And a lot of times that gets downplayed because we just take it for granted. But to see you both sitting here and talking about all of these measures that you’re working on and all that you’ve been able to accomplish, it’s really powerful. It’s a beautiful thing to see.

So thank you both for this. And that’s the Rise for Equity podcast by Mayo Clinic. And I’m Lee Hawkins. We’ll see you next time.

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