Health Equity

How Race and Social Inequities Influence Healthy People’s Paid Participation in FDA-Required Clinical Trials

5:00p.m. – 6:00p.m. ET December 7, 2021 Virtual Event

Co-sponsored by the Penn Program on Regulation and the Penn Carey School of Law Office of Equity and Inclusion

Jill A. Fisher, PhD is Professor of Social Medicine and core faculty in the UNC Center for Bioethics. Her research explores how social inequities are produced or exploited by commercialized medicine in the United States, with a primary focus on how clinical trials are conducted. Phase I clinical trials are required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to test the safety and tolerability of new pharmaceuticals. These trials typically require participants to be confined—and often literally locked in—to residential research facilities for some portion of the clinical trial and enroll healthy people as paid research participants. Drawing on ethnographic research at 6 clinics across the US, this talk illustrates how healthy volunteers’ decisions to take part in such studies are often influenced by larger social contexts of economic insecurity and racial discrimination that make clinical trial participation an attractive financial opportunity. Indeed, Phase I clinical trials include an overrepresentation of racial and ethnic minorities who often enroll serially in these studies to stay financially afloat or try to get ahead.

This event is part of the 2021-2022 Lecture Series on Race and Regulation.


Jill Fisher

Jill Fisher, PhD

Professor of Social Medicine, Center for Bioethics, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill