Jan 18, 2023 - COVID

Researchers bring push for clinical trial diversity to Boston area

Mohammad Millwala, CEO of DM Clinical Research, reads remarks he printed out on a piece of white paper at the grand opening of the Brookline site.

Mohammad Millwala, CEO of DM Clinical Research, gives remarks during the grand opening of the company’s new Brookline site. Photo: Steph Solis/Axios

A company that tested COVID-19 vaccine shots for Moderna and other major manufacturers aims to boost diversity in clinical trials with help from its new Brookline site.

Why it matters: Women and nonwhite people have historically been left out of clinical research for life-saving medicine, and DM Clinical Research is trying to change that, CEO Mohammad Millwala tells Axios.

  • Diversity in the trials helps researchers more easily detect whether a drug candidate reacts differently to patients based on age or sex, according to a 2022 report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine.
  • It could also help identify what role income level, racial discrimination and other barriers play in a patient’s condition.

Driving the news: The new vaccine site opened yesterday on Pond Avenue, near Roxbury, Jamaica Plain and other neighborhoods with more Black and Latino residents.

  • It’s the company’s first site in Boston and has 15 employees.

DM Clinical Research aims to recruit close to a thousand Boston-area participants this year to test infectious disease and respiratory illness treatments.

  • The research will most likely start with studies on the flu, RSV and CMV (cytomegalovirus), Millwala said.

What they’re saying: "We saw through the pandemic how important diversity was and how much it’s actually not been on the forefront of everyone’s mind," said Conor Knightly, Moderna's vice president of clinical operations and infectious disease.

  • "DM Research has been at the forefront."

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