Dr. Mitzi Joi Williams Discusses Why Clinical Trials Are Important For Patients (Video)
Dr. Mitzi Joi Williams is a top neurologist and Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Specialist in Atlanta, Georgia. She received her undergraduate degree in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology from Emory University and her Doctor of Medicine degree from Morehouse School of Medicine. Dr. Williams completed her internship and residency in neurology as well as a Clinical Fellowship in Multiple Sclerosis at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, GA. Dr. Williams has a strong interest in understanding and furthering research in MS in ethnic minority populations. She is a sought-after speaker and presenter and has discussed her research both nationally and internationally at various scientific meetings. She has spearheaded and participated in multiple Steering Committees and Work Groups to further research in underserved population with MS. She also has recently increased involvement in efforts to increase diversity in clinical research and educate the community about the importance of research participation. Dr. Williams is the author of MS Made Simple: The Essential Guide to Understanding Your Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis. Because of her passion for teaching and advocacy.
It’s important for patients to get involved in clinical trials for a variety of reasons. When looking at the body of research for people affected by multiple sclerosis, I was fortunate to participate in a research article that was published in 2015 and when we did a search of the literature, there were over 50,000 articles written about multiple sclerosis in general. Only a hundred of those articles at that time were about black people and multiple sclerosis. So we have research that suggests that the disease is more aggressive in black people, that there’s more disability, that there are more MRI changes, but we don’t really have people involved in our clinical trials. The reason that clinical trials are important is that they set everyone on a level playing field. Everyone who’s enrolled has access to the same care. Their care is actually very good and so they’re able to see the doctor on a regular basis.
Their tests are free and also their medications are often free. And so when we put everyone on the same level playing field and we allow everyone the same access to care in those trials, then we can really see if the aggressiveness that we see of the disease is related to access to care or how much of it is related on a biological basis. Now there are some side effects or risks related to participating in clinical trials and clinical research and certainly those are some, some things that I don’t downplay, but I do think that everyone should at least explore that option if it’s available with their physician and if it’s not available to do research with their physician.
Often if there is a teaching institution or an academic center, they are often involved in clinical trials and so it’s important for us to be a part of the conversation so that we can see how the disease affects