Contact: Dr. Joan Harrell
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Tuskegee University and Eli Lilly and Company Collaborate to Enhance
African American Participation in Clinical Trials

Tuskegee, AL, February 23, 2016 – The National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care (National Bioethics Center) at Tuskegee University and Eli Lilly and Company have partnered to focus on a comprehensive plan to address the longstanding challenge of increasing participation in clinical trials by African Americans. The plan will include applied research, education and community engagement.

“We are grateful for this partnership with Lilly for it demonstrates that the work being done here at Tuskegee University by faculty such as Dr. Rueben Warren is indeed world class with great societal benefit,” said Dr. Brian Johnson, Ph.D., President of Tuskegee University. “We hope to continue to build this partnership into greater endeavors that benefit Lilly, Tuskegee University and society at large.”

Dr. Rueben Warren, DDS, MPH, DrPH, MDIV, Professor and Director of the National Bioethics Center emphasized, “There continues to be major disparities in the health and well-being of African Americans, despite the tremendous advances in human subject research. The translation from the laboratory to the population is actualized, in large part, by clinical trials. However, African Americans have not benefited equitably from the genius of human subject research based on a history of distrust due, in part, to the myths and facts about the United States Public Health Service Syphilis Study at Tuskegee.”

Tuskegee University and Lilly will work together to build a better understanding of the lack of diversity in clinical trials today and the need for greater African American representation in the clinical trial population to help ensure that African Americans benefit equitably from advances in health research.

“This partnership is incredibly important to the advancement of clinical trial diversity and ultimately improving health care for African Americans,” said Coleman Obasaju, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Medical Director, Lilly Oncology, Global Leader, Diversity in Clinical Research. “Because medicines don’t work the same for everyone, we need to understand how they work and the safety profile in the patients likely to take them. And because culture can strongly influence how patients define health perception, lifestyle choices and health care seeking behaviors, we need to understand relevant cultural differences that impact patient outcomes.”
Gordon Fykes, project director for this research project, was instrumental in initiating the collaboration between Tuskegee University and Lilly. The ultimate goal for this research project is to establish trust and trustworthiness between the research community and African Americans.


The National Center for Bioethics in Research and Healthcare at Tuskegee University is the only bioethics center mandated by a President of the United States and is devoted to engaging in the public health sciences, humanities, law and faith in the exploration of the core ethical issues, which underlie human subject research and the population health of African Americans and other underserved people. To learn more please visit and

Lilly is a global healthcare leader that unites caring with discovery to make life better for people around the world. We were founded more than a century ago by a man committed to creating high-quality medicines that meet real needs, and today we remain true to that mission in all our work. Across the globe, Lilly employees work to discover and bring life-changing medicines to those who need them, improve the understanding and management of disease, and give back to communities through philanthropy and volunteerism. To learn more about Lilly, please visit us at and

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