Increasing Women’s Leadership in Clinical Trials

There is an accumulating body of evidence that despite recommended guidance, women remain underrepresented in clinical trials. 1,2 However, inclusion of women in research studies may be improved by representative leadership by similar gender and ethnicities among enrolling physicians and healthcare investigators.3 Among the many expertly structured and executed talks during the Women as One RISE conference was the small group workshop entitled “Clinical Trial Leadership: What Does It Take?”

During this dedicated hour and a half, Dr. Pamela Douglass, the Ursula Geller Professor of Research in Cardiovascular Disease at Duke, and Dr. Jennifer Jones-McMeans, Divisional Vice President of Global Clinical Affairs at Abbott, teamed up for a highly interactive session covering the essentials to a successful career in clinical trial leadership. This included a discussion on honing personal characteristics including curiosity, creativity, and drive as well as flexibility and an ability to delay gratification. Dr. Douglas pointed out success as a clinical trialist can take on many forms. One typical path may include site co-principal investigator (PI) to site PI to a single center investigation and eventually to leading large randomized clinical trials. Whether you thrive as a local site investigator or work toward leading a multi-national trial depends only on your own personal goals and ambitions.

Funding can often be a daunting task for young physician-scientists with sources coming from career development awards and PI initiated grants in early career to eventually from large grants and contracts. Dr. Nicole Redmond, chief of Clinical Applications and Prevention at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute assured most young investigators that funding bodies primary interest is to give money toward funding excellent projects. It’s now up to you to present your project in its best light!

Dr. Agnes Koczo is former chief cardiology fellow at the University of Pittsburgh and was CardioNerds Conference Scholar for the RISE 2023 conference hosted by Women as One.


1 Public Health Service Act sec. 492B, 42 U.S.C. sec. 289a-2

2 Cho L, Davis M, Elgendy I, Epps K, Lindley KJ, Mehta PK, Michos ED, Minissian M, Pepine C, Vaccarino V, Volgman AS; ACC CVD Womens Committee Members. Summary of Updated Recommendations for Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Women: JACC State-of-the-Art Review. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2020 May 26;75(20):2602-2618. doi: 0.1016/j.jacc.2020.03.060. PMID: 32439010; PMCID: PMC8328156

3-Bennett, J.C., 1993. Inclusion of Women in Clinical Trials — Policies for Population Subgroups. New England Journal of Medicine 329, 288–292..