Free Virtual Program Aims to Teach a Patient-Centered Approach to Research


Share On Social!

In recent years, researchers have made a larger effort to tap into previously underrepresented communities, such as communities of color, to create more inclusive research that benefits everyone. 

But many people still have deep-rooted mistrust of research. 

And not all researchers who work with these communities end up bringing the benefits of their research back to boost the health of those communities.  

The PATIENTS Program at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy is attempting to rewrite the narrative and give researchers, patients, caregivers, and others the tools to provide a continuous patient-centered approach to research.  

The PATIENTS Professors Academy is a free, virtual training course centered around improving health equity and the health outcomes of underrepresented communities. 

“We really wanted to create this bi-directional learning and framework so that not only the researchers are getting what they need, but the community is benefiting as well,” said Tralisa Colby, senior health program specialist for The Patients Program. “The research is actually used to improve the health outcomes of the community.” 

The academy is currently seeking applicants, who have a strong interest in health equity and health outcomes, from around the world, to join the ranks of graduates who are actively making a difference. 


About The PATIENTS Professors Academy 

Over five weeks, The PATIENTS Professors Academy recruits will be educated on the PATIENTS Program 10-Step Framework, which is designed to help patients, communities, and care providers how to embrace patient-centeredness and their communities into a research plan.

These lessons will encompass concepts such as engaging credible messengers and communities to develop research partnerships, developing research with community and patient partners, and following through on commitments, dissemination, and continuous engagement.  

Participants will engage with the material by attending 90-minute weekly online interactive seminars, which are led by an esteemed group of patient advisors and content experts, on Monday evenings. 

If participants can’t make the seminar time, seminars will be recorded and available to view later. 

During the week, participants will write a reflection on what they learned and how it can be applied to their communities.  

Throughout the week, participants will have more opportunities to learn by receiving recommended readings on topics covered in the seminars along with getting a chance to interact with program alumni and peers via social hours and online message boards. 

The program is scheduled to begin Monday, July 15, 2024, and ends Saturday, Aug. 17, 2024, when participants will be invited to take part in a virtual graduation ceremony and receive a certificate of completion. . 


Course Outcomes of The PATIENTS Professors Academy 

The PATIENTS Professors Academy course ventures to fold participants into the efforts of the program’s team, their sponsors, and fellow participants by creating advisory positions in research studies.  

By the completion of the program, participants will be able to represent, teach, and apply the engagement framework by working with clinical researchers and exhibit the benefits of patient-centered outcomes research through implementing engagement strategies. 

Participants will also identify, learn, and create ways for patients and communities to exercise their voices and concerns in clinical research. 

Those who go through the program will be able to support patients, community members, and researchers in finding a common language to address community concerns in research by bridging gaps, understanding unique perspectives through lived experiences, and pinpoint goals of patients and researchers.  

This is achieved by exercising cultural humility and creating mutually beneficial research partnerships that benefit the community’s research serves.  

“The overarching goal here is to create health equity. We have historical [examples]. We have Henrietta Lacks, we have the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, and we have the sterilization of women in Puerto Rico,” Colby told Salud America! “We’re trying to combat those things. We’re trying to combat the distrust in those underserved and minority communities that has been created by history. The best way to do this is by engaging them in the process from the start to the finish.” 


Past Graduates of The PATIENTS Professors Academy 

Previous participants of The PATIENTS Professors Academy participants have gone on to put what they learned into practice. They lend their lived experience to research in roles on stakeholder advisory boards, present at industry conferences and events, and more.  

Through program participation, graduates have shared what they’ve learned by “advising companies, government agencies, community-academic partnerships, and other entities on ways to make clinical and translational research more relevant, appealing, and diverse.”

Gail Graham

 “I believe through my relationship with The PATIENTS Program, I have been able to make a difference in my community, while educating people about HIV and other health care issues that impact my community … The PATIENTS Professor Academy encourages, teaches, and connects people from all walks in life so that they too can make their communities a better place.”  

-Gail Graham, Director of Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church HIV/AIDS Ministry-Outreach Services and HIV/AIDS Activist and PPA Advisory Board 

Wynette Sims

“The PATIENTS Professors Academy has equipped all of us with the tools necessary to bring the message of the patient to the work; to value the patient voice and represent those who can’t speak for themselves.” 

-Wynette Sims, PPA graduate class of 2023, patient advocate, Johns Hopkins Health Virtual Advisor and Social Entrepreneur 


How to Apply to The PATIENTS Professors Academy 

For The PATIENTS Professors Academy program’s third year, 100 spots are open to applicants worldwide.   

Those interested in applying can fill out an application online 

Applicants will submit their demographic information and will be asked about their interest in joining the program and life experiences or skills they bring with them as a participant.  

The deadline to apply is Sunday, June 2, 2024. 

For additional information visit the program’s website or reach out to for any questions or concerns. 


Diversifying Clinical Trials 

Despite the rising population of U.S. Latinos, only a very small percentage participate in clinical trials. Clinical trials are studies with volunteers that help researchers learn how to slow, manage, and treat cancer and other diseases. 

This Latino underrepresentation in clinical trials makes it hard for researchers to develop treatments that work for this group, which suffers a heavy burden of disease. 

That is why Dr. Amelie Ramirez, director of the Salud America! program at UT Health San Antonio, is leading the charge to increase clinical trial access to members of the Latino community by partnering with Genentech, a member of the Roche Group.  

Part of that mission includes Salud America! is sharing the stories of trial participants.  

Like Alma Lopez. 

Lopez was diagnosed with breast cancer over 15 years ago. She shared how participating in a clinical trial at UT Health San Antonio helped her with treatment.  

“Clinical trials are great for finding new treatments that help people,” Lopez said. “And it helps the scientists. It gives opportunity to better medication for all populations. It builds a better future.”  

To find more information about clinical trials, visit the Salud America! clinical trials page.  

In San Antonio, search the Mays Cancer Center at UT Health San Antonio’s Find a Clinical Trial database to learn more about available clinical trials and eligibility requirements.  


Explore More:

Health Equity, Training

By The Numbers By The Numbers


out of 10

Pedestrians survive when hit by a car at 40 MPH

Share your thoughts