Edinburg, TX— Hispanic population in the United States and in particular in Rio Grande Valley have historically been underrepresented in national clinical research trials. This raises concerns about the lack of racial diversity in these important clinical trials. The establishment of the DHR Health Institute for Research and Development expands access to new and innovative clinical treatments and advanced clinical care to the residents of Rio Grande Valley with the ultimate goal of increasing the participation of Hispanic population in cutting-edge clinical research.
The DHR Health Institute for Research and Development is a 501(c)(3) non-profit independent research institute, whose focus in on enhancing translational and clinical research in critical areas of need through collaboration with investigators at affiliated academic and non-academic partners, including the National Institutes of Health, Harvard University, Yale University School of Medicine, Vanderbilt University, UT Health, Baylor College of Medicine, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Bayer Pharmaceutical and many more.
“Research, in a highly Hispanic region which is very often left out of other clinical trials, is very important,” states Dr. Ricardo Martinez, General Surgeon, Clinical Research Scientist, and Assistant Medical Trauma Director at DHR Health. “Our participation in these trials means the advancement of medicine in our specific community.”
In the Rio Grande Valley, over 90% of the population is Hispanic. This population is 50% more likely than non-Hispanics whites to succumb to liver disease and complications from diabetes. Unfortunately, less than 1% of Hispanics are involved nationally in clinical trials, meaning there is less data on the effects of certain experimental drugs and treatments. Studies have shown that different ethnic groups may respond differently to the same type of treatment. It is therefore imperative that we make a concerted effort to engage and involve more people of Hispanic origin in innovative clinical trials that would not only benefit them but would also assist us in developing treatment strategies that are most effective for a predominately Hispanic population.
“Being a general surgeon for over 20 years, I have seen the evolution of treatment for breast cancer,” says Dr. Carlos Garcia-Cantu, General Surgeon, Clinical Research Scientist, and Chairman of the Renaissance Medical Foundation. “The treatment for breast cancer used to be very radical, to the point of disabling the patient. Now, breast cancer is treated with minimally invasive procedures. This is largely in part to the research that has been done in the field of breast cancer.”
Currently, the DHR Health Institute for Research and Development has more than 50 active studies, including national multi-site trials in the areas of hepatology, oncology, neurology, diabetes, neonatology, and cardiology among others.