When it comes to medicine, not everything can be an off-the-shelf, automatic fit for everyone. Various clinical trials and development of medicines depend on the types of patients and subjects they’re working with. The results of such trials will ultimately then work for the general audience represented in the sample population.

As cardiologists in our area continue to find cardiac solutions, and are constantly improving the accuracy of risks for various groups, the difficulty of accessing risk factors for Asian-Americans continue to grow.

But that's due for a change.


UW Cardiologist Eugene Yang leads UW Medicine’s Asian Health Initiative, and is an active member within his Korean-American community. As a director of the UW Medicine Eastside Specialty Center, Dr. Yang is exposed to the ever changing healthcare needs of neighborhoods such as Bellevue, Redmond, Mercer Island and Issaquah. “There are big deficiencies in our ability to accurately assess cardiac risk for everyone,” says Dr. Yang. “We can’t accurately predict the risk of a Korean-American or a Chinese-American having a heart attack.”

Such deficiencies may be due to a lack of Asian-Americans “enrolling in clinical trials and research studies, which limits our ability to refine our treatment recommendations or risk stratification tools in this population.” Communication is key here, in which risks regarding heart disease may not be discussed enough within the community. Many factors can come into play when dealing with a disconnect, but language barriers may be the biggest. Without proper knowledge of the risks, it’s only natural that the opportunity to engage with local research opportunities and clinical trials is almost non-existent.

“The Asian-American community is one of the fastest-growing populations in the U.S. and on the Eastside,” says Yang. “It makes sense that the Eastside Specialty Center becomes the epicenter for starting a program like this,” and it’s no surprise the initiative has quickly gained supporters. Longtime friends of UW Medicine Carl and Reneé Behnke created the Carl and Reneé Behnke Endowed Professorship for Asian Health, a position bestowed on Dr. Yang by the University of Washington, allowing him to progress his research even further.

As the Asian Health Initiative begins its impact in the Eastside, Dr. Yang is hoping to take his efforts even further East, opening doors to partner with researchers in Asia who can share their insights on how to enroll patients in clinical trials.

The Asian Health Initiative is off to a wonderful start, and we couldn’t be more proud to have Dr. Yang lead the way.

For more information on the initiative and other game changing projects, visit the UW Accelerate page.