Essentia Health brings clinical trials to underrepresented rural communities

February 13, 2024  By: Caitlin Pallai

STAR Clinical Research Network logo

Essentia, Stanford newest members of nationwide research network

Essentia Health has been selected to join the prestigious STAR Clinical Research Network, which focuses on improving health across common and rare diseases, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, COVID-19, vasculitis and other conditions.

Essentia is one of only 10 health systems that comprise the research network.

Essentia was selected, in part, for its rural footprint — about 84% of our geographic service area is classified as rural. We also are a leader in clinical research and have been a top recruiter for large pragmatic clinical trials, including three led by cardiologist Dr. Catherine Benziger (ADAPTABLE, PREVENTABLE and PRECIDENTD). 

"We are honored to join the STAR Clinical Research Network and engage in deeply meaningful work that improves people's health and wellbeing," said Kate Dean, executive director of the Essentia Institute of Rural Health (EIRH), which spearheads Essentia's commitment to research. "This will enable Essentia to bring even more research opportunities to our patients and ensure rural communities are represented in — and thus more likely to benefit from — clinical research."

"These opportunities are important because patients who participate in research get better care," added Dr. Benziger. "We strive to not only advance medicine, but also to give the best care to our community. Research is an integral part of that care."

STAR is comprised of Essentia; Vanderbilt University Medical Center; Vanderbilt Healthcare Affiliated Network; Stanford University School of Medicine; Duke Health Care System; the University of North Carolina Health Care System; the Medical University of South Carolina; Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist; Meharry Medical College; and the Mayo Clinic. The network also includes numerous academic and community hospitals, as well as hundreds of outpatient practices and community stakeholders. STAR stands for Stakeholders, Technology and Research.

"This allows us to extend our interests and expertise in patient-centered research that focuses on the patient voice to help guide the work we do," said Stephen Waring, DVM, PhD, principal scientist at the EIRH.

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