Speech and debate are skills that require study and practice, much like athletics. The mental and emotional endurance required for students participating in a national speech and debate championship rivals that of athletes on the field, but in debate the competitive advantage is words. Pair that with a meaningful problem worth solving, and a movement begins.
A movement is what Acclinate Genetics is working to create through its efforts to include, engage and educate minorities on the serious topic of health disparities. The issue was the subject at the National HBCU Speech and Debate Championship Feb. 28-March 1 at Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas.
“Partnering with the National HBCU Speech and Debate Association amplifies our voice,” said Tiffany Jordan, director of Strategic Partnerships at Acclinate Genetics. “It empowers minority students who are passionate about impacting change to vocalize the importance of having conversations regarding difficult topics but to also present solutions to problems worth solving.”
The National HBCU Speech and Debate Association is funded primarily by the Charles Koch Foundation. The 2020 national competition attracted more than 150 students, with more than 350 entries.
“Speech and debate challenges students to analyze issues from various perspectives, create solutions, passionately advocate their positions and leverage their skills of persuasion to influence others,” said Christopher Medina, the association’s executive director. “Our students are presented with difficult topics, and the topic of health disparities is extremely relevant and poignant, given the global rise of precision medicine.”
Recently the FDA and the National Institutes of Health have focused their attention on the importance of diversifying clinical trials and genomic research. Acclinate Genetics is prepared to deliver educated, minority clinical trial participants who have historically been left out. Yet the solution to this problem goes beyond technology and policy that demands diverse representation.
“To be included in the conversation around the efficacy of medications, the process to engage in a clinical trial, and the future health of our country and world, is a trust problem,” Jordan said. “To be invited to the table and heard is so important. As a minority-owned small business founded in Alabama, a state with a difficult past in regards to clinical trials, we are ready to change the narrative.”
The partnership between Acclinate and the National HBCU Speech and Debate Association is planned to expand and include other minority-serving institutions, including Latino, American Indian and Asian-American associations.
Acclinate Genetics helps biopharmaceutical companies and contract research organizations achieve the most representative research sample by expanding their genomic studies and clinical trials to include diverse ethnic groups. Its Enhanced Diversity in Clinical Trials (e-DICT) uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive analytics to automate the identification, education, engagement and retention of willing, diverse clinical trial participants.
This system helps decrease the overall cost of drug development and increase the speed of FDA approval.