Recognizing the Medical Heroes Who Participate in Clinical Trials

Written by: Ken Getz, Founder and Chairman, CISCRP

Around the world people are living longer, healthier and happier lives because of the millions of volunteers who participate in clinical trials each year. We call these brave individuals “medical heroes.” Medical heroes are parents, siblings, children, friends and community members who have chosen to participate in clinical trials.

Hope for future generations

The decision to participate is a courageous and selfless act because it always carries risk and is unlikely to bring any direct personal benefit. Participation in a clinical trial often gives hope to patients and their loved ones, but, ultimately, the direct recipients of the gift of participation are those who will be managing their disease or illness in the years to come. Future generations benefit from the new knowledge about the nature of their disease, its progression and how to treat it.

For the vast majority of people, the idea of participating in a clinical trial is new. Most stumble upon clinical trials when faced with the sudden and often unexpected prospect of a serious and debilitating illness for which no medication is available or adequate. Typically, patients and their families, friends and health care providers must gather information quickly to make decisions about whether they should participate in a trial. This rush to navigate the unfamiliar terrain of clinical trials invariably feels overwhelming and confusing.

Providing education

In 2004, the Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP) was founded to provide outreach and education to those individuals considering participation in clinical trials. Based in the Boston area but with a global reach, this nonprofit organization focuses its energy and resources on raising general awareness, on educating patients and the public and on enhancing volunteer experiences during and after clinical trial participation.

Today nearly 4,000 experimental drugs and therapies are in active clinical trials. That number continues to grow as improvements are made in detecting disease, in discovering new medical innovations and in understanding and addressing the root cause of acute and chronic illnesses.

At the very heart of this exciting period of life-saving and life-altering research are the medical heroes to whom we owe our deepest appreciation for the profound gift of their participation.