A current perspective on machine learning’s role in advancing clinical trials diversity

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The year 2020 was a watershed moment for many reasons, but notably, it cast a light on the pervasive health and social inequities that have long marred the U.S. The COVID-19 pandemic hit diverse populations disproportionately hard, as Deloitte and others have noted. Additionally, the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others provoked an uproar over systemic racism that permeates society, including healthcare. This period of societal upheaval has also underscored the necessity of novel approaches involving techniques like the use of machine learning in clinical trials, to ensure that diverse populations are represented.

Such disparities in healthcare were further highlighted when Moderna, soon to become a critical player in the vaccine race, faced a glaring revelation in late 2020. Only 24% of participants in their phase 3 study were from communities of color, despit…

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