It is said that the greatest gift is one that is given anonymously. Millions of people who volunteer to participate in clinical trials each year give this unique gift.

Pushing the frontline

These courageous individuals are rightly considered by some to be medical heroes. Their profound gift of participation helps advance our collective health.

Volunteers help researchers explore promising new medical treatments targeting the cause of illness, relieving the symptoms of disease, and improving the human condition. Every medicine you take, including over-the-counter and prescription drugs and medical devices, would not be available without medical heroes and the clinical trials in which they participated.

Different discoveries

Every person’s decision to participate is different. In every case, there are risks involved. For someone with a serious illness like cancer, participation may provide access to a new potentially life-saving treatment. Someone with a chronic illness like Parkinson’s disease might participate to offer hope for future patients fighting against the disease. Some choose to participate as healthy volunteers to help research professionals identify new and safe medicines to begin testing among patients.

"...participation always benefits public health and advances medical knowledge because it helps researchers and doctors learn about what works and what doesn’t..."

Anyone can volunteer to participate. And, with more than 80,000 clinical research studies conducted annually, there are many opportunities to participate and contribute to the process.

There are many different types of clinical trials, so the experience of participating will vary.

In some studies, participants may take an experimental study drug so researchers can assess whether that drug is safe and effective. Some studies involve the collection of tissue samples; others look at behaviors such as diet and sleeping patterns. Some studies involve filling out a survey.

Grounding perspective

The profound decision to participate may bring hope to the individual participating, but often it does not. Still, something new is always learned from each clinical study. The gift of participation always benefits public health and advances medical knowledge because it helps researchers and doctors learn about what works and what doesn’t work in treating illnesses and conditions.

On behalf of Center for Information & Study on Clinical Research Participation, I thank the millions of medical heroes who bravely give the gift of participation every year and play an essential role in the development of new medical treatments.