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research-and-clinical-trials

Research Snapshot: People of color still drastically underrepresented in NIH clinical trials

New numbers from the Enhancing Minority Participation in Clinical Trials (EMPaCT) consortium show less than five percent of National Institutes of Health (NIH) clinical trial participants are non-white and less than two percent of clinical cancer research trials focus on non-white ethnic or racial groups.

Author and principal investigator Jasjit Ahluwalia, M.D., M.P.H., a professor of medicine in the University of Minnesota of Medical School, expressed his displeasure with the results.

“These new findings highlight the continued disparities in the enrollment of ethnic minorities into clinical trials,” said Ahluwalia.  “Scientists, patients and communities must work together to ensure a reversal, to achieve our goal of health equity.”

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patient-care

U of M’s health care “big data” push to produce better patient care, research

If you’ve followed health reform efforts, you know that every policy debate and system change center around one set of objectives: better outcomes at lower costs with improved patient experiences. The “triple aim” of health care.

But often overlooked in the reform discussion is the question of just how we’ll assess the impact of system changes. How will we know what we’re doing is working? The answer, quite simply, lies in unprecedented access to data.

Through an intensive focus on data and health informatics, the University of Minnesota is front and center in shaping how data is leveraged within research and clinical care. The University has long maintained a robust health informatics program and has also made substantial investments in technology to position itself as a leader in both data collection and analysis.

Our friend and colleague Kevin Coss, from the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR), recently highlighted a variety of University informatics efforts in a piece for the OVPR blog Research @ the U of M. Within, Kevin quotes Dr. Genevieve Melton-Meaux of the U’s Institute for Health Informatics and the chief medical information officer for University of Minnesota Physicians, who said that the “repository and analysis of the large amounts of clinical data will help with clinical research discovery and help forecast what kind of care patients will need, which in turn improves the patient’s treatment.”

We encourage Health Talk readers to visit Kevin’s profile of University efforts within the field of health informatics. His piece can be viewed in its entirety here.

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research-and-clinical-trials

U of M study: U.S. rates of uninsured kids on the decline

A new report compiled by the University of Minnesota’s State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) shows the percentage of U.S. children who lack health insurance fell to 7.5 percent in 2012, the most recent year of data available. The percentage of uninsured children nationwide dropped from 9.7 percent in 2008.

The report also shows significant gains in coverage among children who historically have been most likely to be uninsured —including non-white and Hispanic children and kids in low-income families.

The report was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and appears on the SHADAC site.

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research-and-clinical-trials

Health Talk Recommends: Electrical stimulation helps paralyzed patients move once again

Neuroscientists may have broken new ground in the fight against paralysis.

In new research published today in the journal Brain, a collaborative team of researchers from the University of Louisville, the University of California-Los Angeles and the Pavlov Institute of Physiology in Russia outline how they used neuromodulation and epidural spinal cord stimulation to coax new signals from the brain to the legs of four patients previously paralyzed below the waist. Each patient’s paralysis was the result of spinal cord injury.

While the neuromodulation device was powered on and sending electrical signals down their spines, each man in the study was able to voluntarily move their limbs and support own weight. Each patient has even regained control of their bladder and bowels while regulating their own body temperature and blood pressure.

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research-and-clinical-trials

CMRR’s 10.5 Tesla imaging magnet project moves forward

Last December we took you inside the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research’s (CMRR) latest research project – an effort that will utilize the world’s largest imaging magnet to conduct groundbreaking brain research and human body imaging.

In case you missed it, in late 2013 the 110-ton 10.5 Tesla magnet made a spectacular month-long journey by boat across the Atlantic Ocean from England, through the Great Lakes, and finally made its way from Duluth, MN, to the University of Minnesota campus.

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research-and-clinical-trials

Active lifestyle: Good for the body and the brain

photo courtesy Dale J. Heath via flickr

University of Minnesota researchers have good news for young adults who lead an active lifestyle: By staying active today, you may actually be preserving your memory and thinking skills in middle age.

The findings are most important for the young adults on the low and moderate end of fitness; the people with higher levels of fitness are already doing it right.

“Many studies show the benefits to the brain of good heart health,” said study author David R. Jacobs, Jr., Ph.D., at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. “This is one more important study that should remind young adults of the brain health benefits of cardio fitness activities such as running, swimming, biking or cardio fitness classes.”

Jacobs emphasizes that for those on the lower end of fitness, cardio fitness activities themselves may even not be needed; just moving around in daily life and staying active can improve your future outlook.

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