Clemson Rural Health Works on Decentralized Access to Clinical Trials

Nov. 8, 2023
Goal is to build access to clinical trials into South Carolina’s rural primary care clinics and mobile health units

South Carolina-based Clemson Rural Health is working to broaden access to clinical trials by integrating decentralized access to clinical trials into its primary care clinics and mobile health units.

Housed in the Clemson University College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences, Clemson Rural Health (CRH) is working to reduce preventable deaths and hospitalizations caused by heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease in rural and underserved communities. CRH’s existing structure creates opportunities for adopting new strategies that can enhance these efforts, including the initiation of a clinical trial program.

The proliferation of clinical trials in and around the state has not benefited all South Carolinians equally, CRH noted. Rural residents are underrepresented in the recruitment process and therefore not represented in the research data and findings. In addition, lack of enrollment accounted for 55 percent of all Phase I–IV clinical trials that were terminated, suspended or discontinued during 2008–2017, making it more difficult for life-saving discoveries to be approved for public use, according to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. 

CRH hopes to reverse these trends. By working with two contract research organizations, the Precia Group and the Guardian Research Network, CRH will host trials pertinent to South Carolinians and ensure its research processes are efficient and sustainable. CRH said this strategy is in lockstep with the third pillar of the university’s newly unveiled strategic plan, Clemson Elevate, to transform lives statewide and beyond.

The initiative will be led by Katie Poplin, CRH's associate director for clinical research. 

CRH will be one of the first organizations in the state to adopt the decentralized clinical trial (DCT) model based on the new guidance released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

The initiative hopes to successfully integrate clinical research into its fixed, mobile and remote assets and support its first trials by early 2024.