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Virtual Lunch & Learn: Diversity in Clinical Trials

January 18, 2023 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

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Oregon is home to more than 500 active clinical trials with nearly 9,000 Oregonians participating, creating thousands of jobs and a more than $450 million economic impact for the state. Recruiting participants in clinical trials is a key factor for clinical research success and the diversity of participants plays a critical role. However, enhancing diversity in clinical trials is a challenge for many Oregon clinical trial researchers.

In our panel discussion, we’ll be bringing together an Oregon clinical researcher and a representative from the biopharmaceutical industry to explain some of the challenges of engaging diverse participants and the efforts to address the systemic barriers that can deter underserved communities from participating.

View recording here.

About the Panelists:

Mary Nwokedi, PharmD; Director of Diversity in Clinical Trials, PhRMA

Mary Nwokedi is a pharmacist by training and is currently the Director of Diversity in Clinical Trials at PhRMA, the U.S. industry association representing the country’s leading innovative biopharmaceutical research companies devoted to discovering and developing medicines that enable patients to live longer healthier, and more productive lives. In this role, she has worked on Clinical Trial Diversity initiatives that aim to bridge the gap between patients and novel drug development programs.

Mary started off her career in molecular cardiovascular research at Temple School of Medicine and has publications in Nature and the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology.

Mary holds a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Howard University (Washington D.C.). She studied Health Policy abroad in Pretoria, South Africa, and worked with the Southern African Development Committee (SADC) to compile a report on the regulatory gap capacity issues that exacerbate inadequate access to medicine to patients in the 13 southern African member nations. She also took a short-term study assignment in UK to study payer models and the impact of policies that impact market access.

Post-pharmacy school, Mary accepted a post-doctoral fellowship at Eli Lilly in Global Regulatory Policy and Strategy. She worked on U.S. and International Policy initiatives and collaborated closely with the corporate affairs team on Eli Lilly’s efforts to cooperate with the SDG (sustainable development goals) set by the United Nation.

Mary also worked in Global Oncology Labeling at Merck on the largest oncology therapeutic drug program. She led an effort to standardize label updates in middle/low-income nations for efficient approval and improved access. She also has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Allegheny College (Meadville, PA). Mary Is an ex-marathoner and an amateur gardener, who enjoys live music and visiting many of the free museums in D.C.

Curt A. Heiting, B.B.A., President of Cyn3rgy Research and Development and member of the Oregon Alliance of Clinical Researchers

President, Co-founder, Partner and Managing Research Director of Cyn3rgy Research, Curt is responsible for the business operations, financial performance, marketing and compliance of the company along with setting strategic direction. Prior to Co-Founding Cyn3rgy Research, Curt spent 20+ years in the pharmaceutical sector, accumulated through his tenure with Pfizer, Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb. Curt strives to cultivate direct involvement in the clinical development of both therapeutic and medical devices that address medical needs not currently being met.

Curt’s primary role is to manage complex operational and regulatory aspects of Cyn3rgy Research’s diverse clinical trial portfolio, from assessment of site capacity to overall coordination of clinical data management. Curt’s broad variety of firsthand experience gives him an extraordinary perception of the entire clinical process as seen from the sides of the client, the funder, and the manufacturer. Curt is an active member of the Oregon Alliance of Clinical Researchers, which aims to provide clinical research education and support for the public so they better understand the instrumental role clinical trials play in healthcare and the economy.

A big THANK YOU to our Equity in Leadership series sponsor, Cambia Health Solutions!

Cambia Health Solutions is dedicated to making the health care experience simpler, better and more affordable for people and their families, including the 3.3 million people we serve through our regional health plans.

Cambia is deeply rooted in a 100-year legacy of transforming the industry and the way people experience health care. And we’re committed to delivering a seamless, personalized health care experience for the next 100 years.

Cambia has taken its legacy business and pivoted to meet the needs of today’s health care consumers. Our six regional health plans, Echo Health Ventures investment portfolio, strategic philanthropy with the Cambia Health Foundation and Cambia Grove innovation hub are all united by our Cause—to serve as a catalyst to transform health care, creating a person-focused and economically sustainable health care system.


January 18, 2023
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Event Category:


OR United States