Morehouse School of Medicine, the Research Centers in Minority Institutions Coordinating Center at Morehouse School of Medicine, and Partner Institutions Announce Next Phase of Equitable Breakthroughs in Medicine Development

Partnership selects sites in Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, to advance diversity, transparency, and knowledge in clinical trials.

ATLANTA, GA – FEBRUARY 26, 2024  Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM), the Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) Coordinating Center at MSM, Yale School of Medicine and Vanderbilt University Medical Center today announced the next phase of Equitable Breakthroughs in Medicine Development (EQBMED), a collaborative, community-based partnership to bring clinical trial sites closer to the community to further equity and access for diverse populations. EQBMED announced the selection of the first four Learning Phase sites, moving the needle closer to a scalable and sustainable clinical trial model in historically underserved communities. The partnerships include:

  • Morehouse School of Medicine and Grady Health System in Atlanta, Georgia;
  • Yale School of Medicine and Medical University of South Carolina in Florence, South Carolina;
  • Research Centers in Minority Institutions Coordinating Center (RCMI) at Morehouse School of Medicine and Texas Southern University and University of Texas Medical Branch in Houston, Texas; and
  • Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee.

The selection of these sites is part of EQBMED’s plan to identify up to 10 community-facing clinical trial sites in historically underrepresented communities of color across the southern United States.

“Backed by a rich history, this diverse mix of clinical trial sites saves lives by giving their patients – the Atlanta, Florence, Houston, and Nashville communities – an opportunity to advance the science of lifesaving medicines as well as benefit from this extraordinary work,” said Dr. Priscilla Pemu, MD, MS, FACP, Associate Dean for Clinical Research and Professor of Medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine. “EQBMED is making real progress towards equitable access to clinical trials and enhancing these sites with needed resources.”

“We are seeking to address systemic barriers that underserved patients often face when it comes to clinical trials, including a lack of outreach, patient mistrust, and a lack of clinical trial infrastructure in historically underserved communities,” said Dr. Elizabeth Ofili, MD, MPH,

FACC, Professor of Medicine and Principal Investigator of the RCMI Coordinating Center at Morehouse School of Medicine. “The RCMI Coordinating Center and research consortium are pleased to partner with EQBMED to accelerate drug discovery for the benefit of our communities.”

EQBMED’s multi-stakeholder model employs a holistic approach that considers the baseline capabilities of each site, allowing EQBMED to focus on creating opportunities for communities of color to participate and stay true to the program’s mission to promote clinical trial access and education.

The EQBMED model stands out from others in the field because of its collaborative approach to working with local sites and trusted voices within the community to address critical barriers facing communities of color and rural residents. The program works to increase awareness of clinical trials, address misinformation and historical mistrust, while ensuring the trial is easily accessible.

The EQBMED partnership meets sites where they are, building on their strengths and capabilities to become sustainable within the clinical trial ecosystem. This means developing a tailored approach to each site, which could include, fostering sustainable partnerships with community-based organizations and leaders, enhancing technology capabilities, augmenting infrastructure, and providing funding for dedicated personnel. EQBMED is supported by grant funding from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

This tailored approach drove the development of a new model to consider site readiness – the site maturity assessment model – which enables a site to identify its current capabilities as well as aspirations and co-develop a roadmap to achieve them. The maturity model enables tracking progress at each site over time toward reaching the definition of success agreed upon by the community, trial sites, and EQBMED while maintaining the necessary scientific standards and metrics for quality in clinical trial research.

Each EQBMED network partner is aligned with one of the four current sites and brings their individual strengths and opportunities, while serving in a mentor role to help each site thrive and meet their goals.

“PhRMA’s funding for EQBMED was born from thousands of conversations with patients, community leaders, health providers, industry experts and policymakers about the importance of enhancing clinical trial diversity. Today’s announcement is years in the making and shows what’s possible when people from diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise come to the table to work towards solutions together,” said Stephen J. Ubl, President, and Chief Executive Officer of PhRMA.

EQBMED is building on and leveraging past and present work by the network partners to support local trial sites in historically underrepresented communities in this critical area of clinical research. As we work to increase access to clinical trials for diverse patient populations in pursuit of true health equity, we are committed to sharing our findings broadly to build a foundation of trust, innovate a new approach to clinical trial diversity, and create beneficial change for community-centric research, for medical science, and for society at large.

For more information about Morehouse School of Medicine, please visit

About Morehouse School of Medicine

Founded in 1975, Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) is among the nation’s leading educators of primary care physicians, biomedical scientists, and public health professionals. An independent and private historically-Black medical school, MSM was recognized by the Annals of Internal Medicine as the nation’s number one medical school in fulfilling a social mission — the creation and advancement of health equity. MSM faculty and alumni are noted for excellence in teaching, research, and public policy, as well as exceptional patient care. MSM is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award doctoral and master’s degrees. To learn more about programs and donate today, please visit or call 404-752-1500.

About the Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) Coordinating Center  

The RCMI Coordinating Center supports the RCMI Consortium and research network, which has NIH-funded research centers and 1300 scientists, located across the nation in twenty-two Historically Black, Hispanic and Minority-Serving Institutions, that are leading innovations in health disparities research across diverse communities.  RCMI-CC supports investigators with their collaborative, multi-site research occurring across the Network. Please visit to learn more, and find research collaborators.

Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI) Coordinating Center is supported by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, National Institutes of Health (NIH), through Grant Number U24MD015970. The contents of this announcement are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

About Grady Health System

Grady Health System is one of the largest safety net health systems in the United States. Grady consists of the 953-bed Grady Memorial Hospital, seven neighborhood health centers, Crestview Health & Rehabilitation Center, Correll Pavilion, and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Hughes Spalding, which is operated as a Children's affiliate. With its nationally acclaimed emergency medical services, Grady is Atlanta's only Level I trauma center and serves as the 911 ambulance provider for the city of Atlanta. Grady's Walter L. Ingram Burn Center is the leading burn center in North Georgia. And the Marcus Stroke and Neuroscience Center is a Joint Commission designated Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center. Other key services/distinctions include Grady's Regional Perinatal Center with its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Georgia's first Cancer Center for Excellence, The Avon Comprehensive Breast Center, the Georgia Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center, and the Ponce de Leon Center - one of the top HIV/AIDS outpatient clinics in the country. Grady is one of an elite group of hospitals to earn the Baby-Friendly USA international recognition as a Baby-Friendly Designated birth facility. For more information, visit

About PhRMA

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading innovative biopharmaceutical research companies, which are devoted to discovering and developing medicines that enable patients to live longer, healthier and more productive lives.  PhRMA has convened thousands of stakeholders to explore a new potential infrastructure with diverse communities, health systems, and academia that seeks to show proof of concept for a network of connected, community-rooted and sustainable trial sites. PhRMA provided a grant to Yale University to support the creation and development of this initiative. Learn more about PhRMA’s Equity Initiative at


Jamille Bradfield
Director, External Communications, Media Relations & Crisis Communications
Morehouse School of Medicine