Huntsville research firm Acclinate Genetics is working to make sure minorities are represented in genetic research and clinical trials.
A number of diseases, including both hypertension and kidney disease, are more likely to affect African Americans, yet African Americans are frequently not included in research studies, the company explains. Side effects of some medications can also be affected by genetic ethnicity.
“As our country becomes more diverse, the time is now to address the underrepresentation of minorities and people of color in genomic research and clinical trials,” says Delmonize “Del” Smith, Ph.D., the founder and president of Acclinate, which is based at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology.
While racial and ethnic minorities make up 40 percent of the U.S. population, they make up only 2 to 16 percent of clinical studies, the firm notes, so that “actionable insights for people of color and minority populations are not readily available.”
That, in turn, affects the prospects for the growing trend toward precision medicine — individually tailored to a person’s genetic makeup.
“When it comes to genomic research and clinical trials, we represent the underrepresented,” says Smith. “Our mission is to achieve health equity and personalized healthcare for all.”
In addition to his role at Acclinate, Smith is dean of the business school at Alabama A&M University.