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Dolly Niles: Bringing Clinical Trials Closer to Home: Smaller, Local Sites Build Trust & Provide Access to Local Communities

About this Episode:

In this episode, Dolly Niles, executive director of QUEST Research Institute, talks about the role of small research sites and the value of community outreach. QUEST, a multi-specialty independent research site in metro Detroit, has conducted more than 350 phase 1-4 trials since it was established in 1996.

Niles talks about the role of agile smaller sites during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many health systems and academic medical centers reassigned research staff to patient floors. Smaller sites like QUEST Research Institute have been able to step up, contract quickly and stand up new studies while completing current ones.

She also touches on the importance of connecting with the local community–including minority communities. The fact that COVID-19 is hitting minority populations particularly hard “highlights something we already know–that minority communities are underrepresented in clinical research,” she says. “Sites need to spend time figuring out how to crack that nut.”

The issue goes far beyond recruitment, she says. It requires educating patients and physicians about clinical trials. It involves establishing a trust relationship so when it’s time to recruit, potential participants have that relationship and want to know more. “We need to figure out how to make time for that.”