Einstein/Montefiore Department of Medicine

Dr. Irene Blanco Receives Grant to Increase Access to Lupus Clinical Trials for Minority Populations

Irene Blanco, MD, MS, Associate Professor of Medicine (Rheumatology) and Associate Dean of Diversity, is among three researchers to receive a national grant from the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) to support the development of programs to increase access to clinical trials for minority populations affected by lupus.

Irene Blanco, M.D., M.S.
Irene Blanco, M.D., M.S.
The two-year grant, funded by the Office of Minority Health (OMH), will allow Dr. Blanco to develop a program that will aim to promote the recruitment and enrollment of minority populations affected by lupus into clinical trials by making use of community health workers (CHW) as referral sources. The Community Health Worker Lupus Clinical Trials Training (LuCTT) program model will include multiple interconnected components that will be used by state, local, and community organizations to host regional CHW training summits on lupus clinical trial recruitment support.

Clinical trial results often do not reflect the entire lupus patient population. The lack of diversity in clinical trials reduces opportunities for discovering potential differences in the effects a treatment may have in disparate groups of patients, but there are challenges in getting people to enroll in lupus clinical trials.

“We will be able to leverage the amazing work already accomplished by CHWs to now have an increased focus on lupus and lupus clinical trials,” says Dr. Blanco, who will provide the vital support necessary to ensure cohesiveness in preparation and planning of content development, implementation, evaluation, dissemination, and publication.

The second grant will allow two ACR member-experts to focus on Materials to Increase Minority Involvement in Clinical Trials (MIMICT). This involves helping clinical trial sites and providers work together to deliver accurate, trusted and understandable information to people with lupus so they can make informed decisions about participation in clinical trials.

Dr. Blanco joined the Einstein faculty in 2010 after completing a Master’s Degree in Clinical Research and has led a number of studies relating to lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. She is also the Program Director for the Rheumatology Fellowship Training Program and former Course Director of the medical student Musculoskeletal Disease course. She completed a bachelor’s degree in French literature from Columbia University, an MD from Einstein, a residency in internal medicine at Weill Cornell, and the Rheumatology Fellowship Training Program at Einstein/Montefiore

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