Tzung Hsiai, MD, PhD and Keith Norris, MD, PhD, awarded American Heart Association grant to enhance clinical trial diversity

Led by Tzung Hsiai, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and bioengineering, the Maud Cady Guthman Endowed Term Chair in Cardiology, and co-directed by Keith C. Norris, MD, PhD, executive vice chair for equity, diversity and inclusion, professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), research scientists will study how to improve participation of multi-ethnic populations in personalized dietary approaches to mitigate cardiometabolic disease in Los Angeles County. Through a partnership with a community consultant panel, UCLA researchers will identify barriers to clinical trial participation among African/Black, Asian/Filipino and Latin American populations, develop culturally informed resources encouraging trial participation, and evaluate effectiveness of culturally informed resources versus standard engagement examining recruitment and retention rates of underrepresented adults for trial sites in Los Angeles.

Tzung Hsiai, MD, PhD
Keith Norris, MD, PhD

The study is performed in collaboration with researchers at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, who will focus on recruitment of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander trial participants, and Washington State University who will focus on recruitment of Native American participants. The three complimentary projects aim to mitigate cardiometabolic disparities and will be thematically connected to improve recruitment, enrollment, and participation of diverse individuals in clinical trials. The teams will be integrated by mHealth (mobile health tools), provide diversity training, and where appropriate, machine learning approaches to advance health equity in trials.

“Our team's prior work in clinical trial recruitment, community outreach and engagement will further enable in-depth understanding of the many barriers and facilitators to enhance diversity of clinical trial recruitment,” stated the team leadership. “Thus, our overarching goal is to mitigate longstanding and ongoing structural racism with the maldistribution of health and health related resources, and persistent stark disparities in health conditions and outcomes.”

The project is supported by the American Heart Association’s Strategically-Focused Research Network (SFRN) on the Science of Diversity in Clinical Trials, an initiative which seeks to address social determinants of health and improve health equity. For more information, visit

 The complete list of collaborating institutions and faculty includes:


Tzung Hsiai, MD, PhD (Contact PI)Maud Cady Guthman Endowed Chair, professor of medicine and bioengineering at UCLA
VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System

Keith Norris, MD, PhD (MPI)
Professor and executive vice chair for EDI in medicine; co-leader, UCLA CTSI CERP

Pilots & More:
Ka’imi Sinclair, (Site PI)
Associate professor and co-director, Institute for Research and Education to Advance Community Health

Keawe Kahalokula, PhD (MPI)
Professor & chair of native Hawaiian health at University of Hawaii, Manoa

Claire Ing, MPH, DrPH (Co-PI)
Assistant professor, University of Hawaii

Arleen Brown, MD, PhD
Professor of medicine, UCLA CTSI director; co-leader, CTSI CERP

Zhaoping Li, MD, PhD
Professor of medicine & chief, division of clinical nutrition at UCLA
VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System

Alejandra Casillas, MD, MSHS
Assistant professor in residence, department of medicine at UCLA

Training Core
Susanne Nicholas, MD, PhD
Professor of medicine; director NIH-KUH Professional Development Core

Alex Bui, PhD
David Geffen Chair in Informatics; professor of radiological sciences; director, Medical & Imaging Informatics Group Nina Harawa, PhD
Professor of medicine and epidemiology, Fielding School of Public Health and David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA; co-director UCLA CTSI TL1 Program

We would like to acknowledge the following faculty and staff in the department of medicine whose leadership was instrumental in helping launch this important initiative: 

E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD, chair and executive medical director of the department of medicine at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and UCLA Health

Gregory Brent, MD, chief, division of endocrinology, chair, department of medicine at VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System

Steven Dubinett, MD, interim dean, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Alan Fogelman, MD, director, Atherosclerosis Research Unit at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA 

Carol Mangione, MD, MSPH, FACP, chief, division of general medicine and health services research

Raellen Man, departmental research associate, department of medicine office of research administration

Frank Munoz, fund manager, department of medicine office of research administration

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