Diabetes Clinical Trial at Meharry Medical College

Diabetes Clinical Trial at Meharry Medical College

11.26.12 | By

Many times, we have written in this space about clinical trials of new medicines and how they are beneficial not only to patients, but also the economy and the advancement of science and patient care.

But it's time to play a little catch-up and focus on a specific clinical trial, its key clinician and his institution to personalize the story. And since November is National Diabetes Month, we'll profile a diabetes medicine trial:

Meharry Medical College in Nashville is one of the sites involved in a national research study of a new treatment that could lower blood sugar and prevent heart attacks and strokes in patients with Type 2 diabetes. The trial is being conducted in collaboration with the biopharmaceutical company Sanofi.

According to the American Diabetes Association, heart attacks and strokes strike diabetics more than twice as often as people without diabetes.

It is fitting for Meharry, one of the nation's oldest and largest African American academic health science centers, to be part of diabetes research at a time when black patients are twice as likely to be diagnosed with the disease as white patients. Diabetes affects about 16 million African Americans and Meharry has made this chronic disease a focus of its research, which emphasizes medical conditions that disproportionately impact African Americans and other minority populations.

It would appear Sanofi chose wisely when it tapped Meharry and its associate vice president for research - Dr. John J. Murray - to conduct a trial of its experimental diabetes drug lixisenatide.

Knowing they must convince the Food and Drug Administration their treatments are safe and effective, biopharmaceutical companies developing new medicines are looking for skilled clinicians and respected research institutions to conduct clinical trials. Additionally, the FDA requires that new therapies be examined in a demographically representative population and, in particular, in those most impacted by the disease.

"Clinical trials are a good fit for me," says Dr. Murray. "I am both a physician and a pharmacologist and clinical research allows me to use my training to be part of developing new medicines. It is challenging and rewarding work."

After graduating from Harvard University, he received doctoral degrees in medicine and pharmacology from Vanderbilt University and was an Exchange Fellow at the National Institutes of Health, among many accomplishments.

At Meharry, his primary role is to oversee the college's clinical research, which includes supervising clinical trials, educating clinical investigators and ensuring compliance with regulatory and ethical requirements of human research.

"As we're trying to develop more effective treatments - and, hopefully, cures - it is essential that we not forget clinical trial volunteers are human beings," Dr. Murray says. "They should have a complete understanding of the trial and its goals and receive quality medical care."

The author of nearly 300 articles and abstracts, and a reviewer for such journals as the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of Immunology, he is included in Best Doctors in America and Who's Who in Medicine and Healthcare.

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