The study committee found that the following key themes warrant special attention in order to improve the representation of women and minorities in the clinical research workforce:
Adequate collection of the appropriate data;
Evaluation of the training landscape and mechanisms;
The special needs for nursing;
The pipeline and the career path for clinical researchers; and
The role of professional societies.
These themes contain systemic challenges that affect the clinical research enterprise as a whole, as well as specific challenges that should be addressed to improve the strength, character, and diversity of the workforce.
The committee offers the following recommendations for major stakeholders (federal government, academic institutions, private sector, and professional societies and associations) with the goal of strengthening and improving the diversity of the clinical research workforce.
A fundamental difficulty in examining issues surrounding clinical research is the lack of data on the clinical research enterprise as a whole, including data on funding levels, training programs, and who participates in the workforce. It is a challenge to examine ways to sustain and replenish the clinical research workforce when the data needed to understand the state of the clinical research enterprise are not available.
The National Institutes of Health of the Department of Health and Human Services should initiate a process that will develop the consistent definitions and methodologies needed to classify and report clinical research spending for all federal agencies, with advice from relevant experts and stakeholders (federal sponsors and academic centers). Such a step would allow a better understanding of the training and funding landscape and would enable accurate data collection and analysis of the clinical research workforce.