On February 6, 2012, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched a new website called the NIH Clinical Research Trials and You. The site explains the concepts of clinical trials, why they matter, and how to participate.
“The ability to recruit the necessary number of volunteers is vital to carrying out clinical research that leads to health and medical advances,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
The website makes it easier for the public, as well as health professionals, to learn about clinical trials and how to participate in them. The site allows visitors to search for clinical trials on different diseases, including cancer, eye diseases, and allergy and infectious diseases, that are going on in their local area. For instance, a search for clinical trials in Connecticut that are studying the cancer melanoma produces a list of 11 clinical trials. Clicking on each individual trial provides additional details. For example, the “Ipilimumab or High-Dose Interferon Alfa-2b in Treating Patients With High-Risk Stage III or Stage IV Melanoma” trial is still recruiting volunteers and has several trial sites in Connecticut, including the Hartford Hospital, Yale Cancer Center in New Haven, Cancer Center at Stamford Hospital, and the Eastern Connecticut Hematology and Oncology Associates in Norwich.
One of the greatest challenges in the recruitment of volunteers (both healthy volunteers and participants with an illness) is the lack of general knowledge about what trials involve, where they are carried out, and who may participate. The website has information about: the basics of clinical trial participation; first hand experiences from actual clinical trial volunteers; explanations from researchers; and links on how to search for a trial or enroll in a research matching program.
It is the involvement of volunteers that allow researchers to discover better ways to treat, prevent, diagnose, and understand human disease.
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