BioNJ is trying to boost future leaders and approaches to advance its strategic Health Equity in Clinical Trials initiative.
To that end, the state’s life sciences trade association hosted its Inaugural Health Equity in Clinical Trials MBA Business Plan Case Competition Dec. 3 at Rutgers Business School, naming three winners and awarding more than $20,000 in prize money.
Designed to promote next generation innovators in the space and to identify new methods and models to strengthen clinical trial diversity and expand health equity, eight teams took part in the event.
Competitors – four to five person teams comprised of cross-disciplinary students hailing from MBA or other allied graduate programs – were tasked with developing a business plan that defined a new solution, application or technology to help address health equity in clinical trials, focusing on one specific health disparity. The teams also connected with community-based groups to get a feel for the real-world conditions that stand between their chosen populations and taking part in clinical trials.
Meet the judges:
- Naikia Atkinson, director, U.S. Clinical Trials Diversity and Inclusion – Sanofi
- Schylr Greggs, director, Technology Operations – Medidata
- Sharon Hanlon, head, Clinical Trial Engagement & Enrollment – Bristol Myers Squibb
- Maribel Hernandez, vice president, Clinical Operations & Special Projects – PTC Therapeutics
- Jack Rosenberg, manager, Investments and Business Development – TrialSpark
- Del Smith, co-founder & CEO – Acclinate
- Lolita Smith, program manager, Rare Disease Diversity Coalition – Black Women’s Health Imperative
- Matt Walz, CEO – TrialBee
The eight teams – Baylor College of Medicine, Northwestern University & Rice University; Columbia University; Johns Hopkins University; Rutgers Business School; Temple University; Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth; University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff; and University of Pittsburgh – focused on disease areas including Alzheimer’s, heart failure, multiple sclerosis, diabetes type 1 and type 2, colorectal and cervical cancers, and oncology.
Johns Hopkins University took home the first-place prize ($10,000) for its plan to increase representation in clinical trials using community engagement and digital tools for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
Second place (and a $7,000 prize) went to host Rutgers Business School, which focused its work on using population health and real-world data analytics to calculate health equity targets specific to clinical trial sites in prostate cancer.
Taking third was Baylor College of Medicine, Northwestern University & Rice University ($3,500) with its proposal to increase Hispanic/Latinx involvement in clinical trials by training community health care workers from refugee and immigrant populations.
In April 2023, a whitepaper including all presentations will be published and made available during BioNJ’s BioPartnering Conference. That occasion will also see the three winning teams present their plans to the more than 500-person event, with all students invited to attend.
A number of Garden State companies have made efforts to expand their own clinical trials recently, including Bristol Myers Squibb, Novartis and Valley Health.
“BioNJ’s mission is to help our Members help Patients. It is with the vision of Health Equity for all that BioNJ launched our Health Equity in Clinical Trials Strategic Initiative, of which the MBA Business Plan Competition is one of three important workstreams,” said BioNJ President and CEO Debbie Hart in a statement. “In addition to thanking our extraordinary teams for their commitment and time, I’d like to thank our Steering Committee; industry supporters, including Bristol Myers Squibb, Medidata, Amicus Therapeutics, PTC Therapeutics, Sanofi, Insmed, PsychoGenics, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Crowley Law and the Rare Disease Diversity Coalition; our expert judges and our colleagues from the Kith Collective.
“It was only with their guidance and support that we have been able to bring this important initiative forward,” she said.