Shreveport pastor works to bridge gap between medical research and Black community

SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Shreveport Pastor Theron Jackson has joined forces with the National Institute Of Health in a program aimed at getting more members of the Black community involved in improving the quality of medical research.

“When you come up with cures, one of the ways is done is through science, you do trials, you do studies, you develop medicine. And I learned African Americans were underrepresented in the trials and the research,” said Jackson, who is the pastor at Morningstar Missionary Baptist Church.

“It was very important that we did it and did it now because again the pandemic was very exposing to us, so if things were going to get better, I think we can see now we have to participate.”

The program is working to get 1,000,000 people who are underrepresented in biomedical research. People can submit surveys or a saliva sample, and their medical records are followed for ten years.

“They watch what happens over ten years to a particular kind of person, with this kind of age.”

Pastor Jackson says the pandemic played a role in why he and some members of his congregation joined last month.

“To see the exposure of so much comorbidity in our community and so many pre-existing conditions in our community.”

He says people should not be afraid to participate in the research. There are now safeguards in place to keep people protected unlike in the past.

“There are review boards put in place, there are consent forms, so people are informed of what’s going to happen to them and they have a right to pull out at any particular time.”

And he says taking part in the research helps represent everyone fairly.

“Make sure that being a part of the research, a part of trials, a part of studies is not something that is not weaponized against our community as well,” said Pastor Jackson.

Wednesday night, a panel will be held with medical professionals discussing the importance of being involved in this kind of research. The panel will be held via zoom.

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