For Immediate Release         November 05, 2009  


Minority Research Centers Study the effects of Vitamin D3

Los Angeles (Nov. 5, 2009) – Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science announced today that a consortium of 18 minority research centers has launched a clinical study examining the effects of Vitamin D3 on cardiovascular disease.

The pilot study by the Research Centers in Minority Institutions Translational Research Network (RTRN) will monitor 130 African-American participants taking Vitamin D3—or a placebo—once a month for 90 days to determine more about the role the vitamin plays in reducing heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure and other conditions of the heart and blood vessels.

“We are excited and pleased to have begun this very important study,” said Keith Norris, M.D., Interim President of Charles Drew University, RTRN Principal Investigator and Co-Principal Investigator for the Vitamin D3 study. “This project is the catalyst for many highly-anticipated collaborative research initiatives that will occur throughout the Network and we expect it to provide beneficial outcomes for minorities dealing with cardiovascular health issues.”

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) causes more deaths of Americans of both genders and all racial and ethnic groups than any other disease, according to the Center for Disease Control. It is also one of the leading causes of disability in the United States. CVD costs an estimated $300 billion annually as measured in health care expenditures, medications, and lost productivity due to disability and death.

 RTRN, created in 2007 through a federal grant from the National Center for Research Resources, National Institutes of Health (NIH), is a national consortium of clinical and biomedical research centers in minority institutions (RCMIs), which leverage intellectual and technological resources to address health disparities in minority and underserved communities. The mission of RTRN is to produce tangible health benefits for diverse minority/underserved populations across the country through a translational research network aimed at reducing health disparities. 

The Vitamin D3 study is mainly a collaborative effort between two RCMI institutions, Charles Drew University in Los Angeles and Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. Dr. Keith Norris’ counterpart at Morehouse is noted cardiologist Dr. Gary Gibbons. RTRN’s Data Technology Coordinating Center at Jackson State University in Jackson, MS, will also have a role in the team effort.

“Our work on the Vitamin D study is aligned with the goals and aims of the Network and NIH Healthy People 2010,” said Gary Gibbons, M.D., Director of the Morehouse Cardiovascular Research Institute and co-principal investigator on the RTRN Vitamin D study. “We are uniting researchers from various disciplines and geographic locations in translational research to address one of the primary health diseases for persons in the United States.”

Industry-leading collaborative and clinical technological tools and applications are being utilized to ensure efficient, timely and safe management of study’s extremely sensitive data.  The tools are enabling the research teams to input and analyze data from remote locations and share outcomes and discoveries in real-time.

 “The Data Technology Coordinating Center has established a leadership role in the coordination of the Pilot Study which includes providing access to the collaborative and clinical applications, administering communications between the RCMI research sites as well as facilitating the development of the Case Report Forms that are being used to capture data remotely,” said M. Edwina Barnett, M.D., Ph.D., program director for the RTRN, DTCC and a member of the RTRN Pilot Study team. “Our work with the research teams at Charles Drew and Morehouse is enabling us to demonstrate to the remaining RCMI centers which comprise RTRN how their multi-site studies will be conducted.”

James Perkins, Ph.D., Director of RTRN Data Technology Coordinating Center and Co-Principal Investigator, RTRN, said: “The DTCC provides a robust clinical data management system, Oracle Clinical, and a state of the art technology infrastructure to support the pilot study and future studies involving multiple institutions.”

Study participants are being recruited from communities in which the research centers are located.  Persons interested in participating should contact RTRN DTCC at 601.979.0332 or visit the web site for additional information.
The RCMI Translational Research Network (RTRN) is a national consortium of clinical and translational researchers in the RCMI Centers, working in collaboration with investigators from other academic health centers, community health providers, and the public to focus their collective efforts on addressing health disparities. Through the Data Technology Coordinating Center (DTCC), located at Jackson State University (Jackson, Mississippi), the Network has established a solid technological foundation to support intellectual exchange, generate innovative inter- and multi-disciplinary research and facilitate the movement of scientific advances throughout the translational research spectrum.  Keith Norris, MD, (Charles Drew University of Medicine (Los Angeles, California)) is the principal investigator for RTRN.  For more information about RTRN and the DTCC, visit

RTRN is supported by grant number U54RR022762 from the National Center for Research Resources , National Institutes of Health (NIH).  This grant also receives co-funding from the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities , NIH.

  For more information, please contact:
John L. Mitchell
Media Advisor at
Charles Drew University of Medicine & Science
Telephone: (323) 563-4981 or cell (323) 681-4225

1731 East 120th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90059
p 323 563 4987  f 323 563 5987

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