Mia Woodward, MD: Women and Minority Groups In Clinical Trials


Mia Woodward, MD, discusses her study examining the the inclusion of women and minorities in National Eye Institute clincal trials.

Inclusion of women and minority groups in clinical trials has long been a topic of discussion among researchers and clinicians alike. Mia Woodward, MD, associate professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center, took part in a study presented at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology that aimed to examine that specific issue.

After examining 108 studies from 1993 to 2017, Woodward and her colleagues discovered that clinical trials sponsored by the National Eye Institute were effective in creating study population that were representative of real-world populations. Woodward sat down with MD Magazine at ARVO to discuss the findings of the study and what prompted her to examine the topic more thoroughly.

MD Mag: What is the importance of including women and minorities in clinical trials and what did you find when examining the issue?

Woodward: So, this was a study that we conducted because I actually went to a wonderful lunch here at ARVO for women in ophthalmology, a WEAVER luncheon, and the focus of that study was about the need to focus on including women and minorities in clinical studies because a lot of big studies have shown that even if you don't include male and female rats there can be different outcomes in basic science studies. So, it's all the way from the basic science to the clinical trials that outcomes are different and those have to do with differences in genetics, differences in environment and really what we want as physicians is all of our patients to do well. So, if a study is not done on all populations it loses its generalizability you can't say a study done on one very homogeneous population where everyone is the same works the same in other populations and if we really want to take this take care to the patients we have to make sure that our clinical trials reflect those populations. So that was really important to us.

To follow up about the women and minorities study, the beautiful thing about our outcome is that there was not problem fits. There really wasn't a bias that we saw in our papers, that National Eye Institute sponsored clinical trials and clinical trials and eyes really did do a good job at diversity which was very relieving to me. So, you know of course it's always my concern and why we did the study in the first place. So, I think we can always do better but we were going in the right direction and we need to continue to pursue going in the right direction.

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