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How Can You Take Part in Clinical Research? Looking Beyond “First in Human”

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For a remarkable journey through the front lines of clinical research, I’d like to invite you to join me in viewing First in Human, which premieres tonight at 9 p.m. ET on the Discovery Channel. This three-part docuseries, to be aired August 10, 17, and 24, provides an unprecedented look inside the NIH Clinical Center here in Bethesda, MD, following four of the many brave patients who’ve volunteered to take part in the clinical trials that are so essential to medical breakthroughs.

You’ll learn about what it’s like to take part in an experimental trial of a new treatment, when all standard options have failed. You’ll see that the NIH Clinical Center and its staff are simply amazing. But keep in mind that you don’t have to travel all the way to Bethesda to be part of outstanding, NIH-funded clinical research. In fact, we support clinical trials all across the country, and it’s often possible to find one at a medical institution near your home. To search for a clinical trial that might be right for you or a loved one with a serious medical problem, try going to, a web site run by NIH.

According to a national survey conducted a few years ago, 16 percent of respondents reported that they or a family member had participated in a clinical trial [1]. But among adults with cancer, participation in clinical trials is estimated to be only about 3 percent [2].

These numbers need to go up! Not only do clinical trials offer sick people who have no other options a chance to receive experimental treatments that may extend or save their lives, such work is essential for advancing scientific knowledge in ways that will benefit the health of future generations. With the attention now being drawn to the value of clinical research by First in Human and other outreach efforts, I hope we can begin to build momentum to encourage more Americans to take part in clinical trials.

So, as you watch this remarkable Discovery docuseries, please think about how you or your loved ones might be able to participate in clinical research. And be sure to tune in again for the second and third segments of First in Human, airing 9-11 p.m. ET on August 17 and 24.


[1] National Poll on Clinical Research, Research America, June 2013.

[2] Transforming Clinical Research in the United States: Challenges and Opportunities: Workshop Summary. Institute of Medicine (US) Forum on Drug Discovery, Development, and Translation, 2010.


Clinical Trials.Gov (National Library of Medicine/NIH)

NIH Clinical Research Trials and You

Undiagnosed Diseases Network (NIH)

Clinical Trials Information for Patients and Caregivers (National Cancer Institute/NIH)

Clinical Studies (National Eye Institute/NIH)

Clinical Trials (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute/NIH)

Current NHGRI Clinical Studies (National Human Genome Research Institute/NIH)

Clinical Trials (National Institute on Aging/NIH)

Find a Clinical Trial (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases/NIH)

Current NIAMS Protocols at the NIH Campus (National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases/NIH)

Clinical Studies: Information for the Public and Potential Volunteers (National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders/NIH)

NIDCR Clinical Trials (National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research/NIH)

Special Diabetes Program: Clinical Trials Recruiting Patients & Families (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders/NIH)

Clinical Trials Information (National Institute on Drug Abuse/NIH)

Clinical Trials (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke/NIH)

Clinical Trials – Information for Participants (National Institute of Mental Health/NIH)

Research Match (National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences/NIH)

Clinical Trials (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health/NIH)






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