A seasoned drug development executive named Kathy Lenhard just this year opened up Brownsville, Texas-based PanAmerican Clinical Research to help biopharmaceutical vaccine and therapy sponsors test key investigational products targeting COVID-19. In just her first year of American operations, PanAmerican Clinical Research is conducting 10 clinical trials right in the valley. This trial site organization, operating for 10 years out of Juriquilla Querétaro, Mexico, now runs a facility dedicated to recruiting Hispanic study participants in the United States. Situated in the Rio Grande Valley, about 200,000, predominantly Latino residents reside in the immediate Brownsville metropolitan area. Ms. Lenhard recruited Dr. Christopher Romero, formerly an internal medicine specialist with Valley Baptist Medical Center, as the trial site organization’s medical director.
COVID-19 in Rio Grande Valley, Texas
Texas generally has experienced a major second wave of the virus as Texas Public Radio recently reported the state surpassed 1 million COVID-19 cases just this past Friday. Now since the start of the second surge, the total now sits at 1,004,983 by Nov. 15.
The report shares that over 67,300 COVID-19 cases, and at least 3,344 virus-related deaths are now confirmed across the Rio Grande Valley’s four counties. TPR reports that the Rio Grande Valley COVID-19 cases represents 7% of the total statewide.
The TrialSite Organization
Although, apparently PanAmerican Clinical Research operates outside of the U.S. in Latin America, this Brownsville-based facility is the first site location in the United States. Set up to help satisfy demand for studies during the COVID-19 pandemic, the trial site organization appears to be executing to that commitment.
Dr. Romero reports in a recent article in the local press, “PanAmerican Clinical Research has been partnering with major pharmaceutical research entities to bring some of these therapies to the Rio Grande Valley so that we can offer cutting-edge trials in treating COIVID-19 to our patients right here.”
The actual firm was founded in 2010 by clinical research leaders from the U.S. and Latin American to offer best-in-class research and patient recruitment services throughout all of Latin America and the U.S.
The trial site organization has established affiliations with Life Sciences Washington and Multi-Regional Clinical Trials at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard.
PanAmerican manages or contracts with several sites in Mexico and again the first U.S. site operaters in Brownsville. See the link for the other sites.
Hispanic Recruitment Specialists
This trial site organization specializes in recruiting and enrolling Hispanic (LatinX) clinical trial participants. It’s well known that ethnic minorities in the United States don’t participate in clinical research nearly as much as other groups, especially African Americans and Hispanics. Classified as “underrepresented” groups, PanAmerican Clinical Research specializes in recruiting, enrolling and retaining Hispanic participants in clinical trials.
Critically important, this is, as Hispanics have been hit hardest by the pandemic than the Anglo population and advanced vaccines, such as the messenger RNA-based candidates need to be tested across a diverse array of ethnic and racial groups. Dr. Romero reminded, “Historically, minority populations have been underrepresented,” and he continued, “That means we don’t know for sure if they’re going to have the same benefit from these therapies being developed and approved. So this is something that’s important for the people of the Rio Grande Valley, that we can be a part and represented in these large clinical trials.”
Christopher Romero, MD, Medical Director
Call to Action: For residents in the Rio Grande Valley interested in participating in research, see the contact information at 956-443-0016 or 956-443-0016.