A clinical trial is a regulated, systematic way to answer a question related to health care. Clinical trials are also called medical research or research studies. The goals of clinical trials include:
Participating in a clinical trial can bring many benefits. As a patient, it can help you access new and innovative drugs or treatments still in research stages. For others, participating in a trial is a way to help advance science and health care for the public good.
Vanderbilt developed and is a partner in ResearchMatch. This national recruitment registry connects people who would like to participate in research with researchers at Vanderbilt and nationwide.
Before a new treatment is tested with patients, it is carefully studied in the laboratory and tested for safety. This process identifies the new methods most likely to succeed and, as much as possible, shows how to use them safely and effectively. At Vanderbilt, clinical trials undergo a rigorous approval process both by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and by two separate committees at the medical center. One Vanderbilt committee reviews the study to be sure it is scientifically sound. The other is the Institutional Review Board (IRB), which focuses on protecting study volunteers. Researchers and doctors approving a study have reason to believe that it will be as good as or better than current treatments.
Patients who qualify for a trial decide with their doctor whether to participate in a study. How a treatment will work for any individual patient in the trial cannot be known ahead of time. We discuss the risks and benefits of a study before you make a decision; this is informed consent. You will never be placed in a clinical trial without your knowledge or permission. A patient may leave a study at any time without any effect on their continuing medical care.
Vanderbilt conducts research studies and clinical trials in various divisions throughout the medical center. Learn more about studies in the following areas: