Carefully planned clinical trials test new medical advances for safety and efficacy, making possible future improvements in everyday clinical practice and health-care decision making.
To look for a clinical trial or research study:
- Go to the Stanford Clinical Trials Directory, a searchable database of all clinical trials or research studies being conducted at Stanford.
- For trials outside of the Stanford Health Care community, go to ClinicalTrials.gov. This is a searchable directory of clinical trials. This NIH website also includes general information on how clinical trials are conducted.
To receive notifications of open clinical trials:
- Sign up for the Stanford Research Registry.
- Sign up for ResearchMatch, a large nationwide network of research institutions and community organizations that provides a searchable list of ongoing clinical studies and notifications of new studies in targeted areas of interest.
To learn more about clinical trials and research studies:
- Visit the Stanford Research Compliance page page on what it means to be a research study participant, and learn about clinical trials and the process, risks and rewards of participating in research studies or clinical trials.
- Search the Stanford Community Academic Profiles (CAP) to look for a Stanford investigator who may be conducting research in a specific area of interest.
Clinical trials are research studies in which new treatments are tested in people to determine if they are safe and effective.
A clinical trial is a carefully designed investigation to measure the effectiveness of a medical treatment on a group of patients. The medical treatment under investigation could be a pharmaceutical product (drug), medical device, or biotechnology therapy.
A clinical trial is conducted under the close supervision of a physician investigator. It is a carefully prescribed, step by step process that assures trial subjects receive careful medical attention.
Clinical trials are strictly governed by National Institutes of Health structure and guidelines, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Good Clinical Practice (GCP) for the proper conduct of clinical research.
What is a protocol?
The protocol is the trial method. It has been studied and approved by an oversight committee called the institutional review board (IRB).
What is an Institutional Review Board (IRB)?
An Institutional Review Board (often abbreviated as "IRB") is a committee or panel comprised of medical and non-medical members who study and properly consider all clinical protocols involving human subjects. The IRB assesses:
- the risks to the subjects
- the anticipated benefits to the subjects and others
- the importance of the knowledge that may reasonably be expected to result
- the informed consent process to be employed
Who serves on Stanford’s IRB?
Stanford University's IRB is called the "Administrative Panels on Human Subjects in Medical Research." Stanford has three panels, each of which meets 11 times a year.
Panel A, for example, has 10 voting members: six faculty physicians, a nurse, a pharmacist; a minister, and a graduate student. There are eight alternate voting members. Non-voting members include four administrators, one staff member, and a legal counsel.
The purpose of the Administrative Panels on Human Subjects in Medical Research (IRB) is to assure the University's compliance with federal regulations of research activities. The Panels review all proposals involving the use of human subjects in medical research. They assess current policies and their implementation and may recommend new policies within the Panels' province. Stanford University and the IRB are guided by the ethical principles regarding all research that involves humans as subjects regardless of whether the research is subject to Federal regulation or with whom conducted or source of support (i.e., sponsorship).
The involvement of human subjects in research is not permitted until an appropriate IRB has reviewed and approved the research protocol and informed consent has been obtained from each human subject of Biomedical and Behavioral Research.
WHO participates in clinical trials?
Participants are adult and/or pediatric subjects, who may be healthy or with disease, depending on the study. Trial subjects volunteer for a clinical study and sign an informed consent form. Subjects have the option to withdraw at any point. In some clinical trials, patients may be reimbursed for their participation.
WHY participate in a clinical trial?
Subjects might volunteer for a clinical trial to receive a promising new therapy before it is generally available to the public. Others may want to help scientific advancement. Another benefit is that medical treatments in a clinical trial are routinely made available at no charge to the patient, family, or insurance company.
Are clinical trials safe?
Patients considering participating in a clinical trial should discuss it with their physician and/or medical caregivers. They also should seek to understand the credentials and experience of the individuals and the facility involved in conducting the study.
The patient's rights and safety are protected in two important ways. First, any physician awarded a research grant by a private company or the National Institutes of Health must obtain approval from an Institutional Review Board before conducting the study. The review board, usually composed of physicians and lay people, is charged with examining the study's protocol to ensure that a patient's rights are protected, and that the study does not present undue or unnecessary risk to the patient. Second, anyone participating in a clinical trial in the United States is required to sign an "informed consent" form. This form details the nature of the study, the risks involved, and what may happen to a patient in the study. The informed consent tells patients that they have a right to leave the study at any time.
Where can I get more information on clinical trials?
- There is an extensive FAQ on clinical trials on the ClinicalTrials.gov website.
- Bulletin boards and notices in doctors' offices, newspapers and radio stations regularly provide brief descriptions and contact information for clinical trials. Searching the Internet for information about a disease or condition will yield news on where and what clinical research activity is ongoing.
- If you don't find the information you are looking for regarding clinical studies at Stanford University Medical Center, you can contact Spectrum at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This online directory lists faculty physicians of Stanford University School of Medicine whose primary clinical practice is at Stanford Hospital & Clinics.
Search by Name, Keyword, or Department, or browse physicians by name.
Profiles provide clinical and scientific focus, professional education, contact information, publications and more.
The Ethics Committee of the Stanford Hospital and Clinics provides a medical ethics consult service for the hospital and clinics. Anyone may request a consult.
Ethics consults usually involve a situation where patient care is impacted by conflicts in values between and/or among patients, families, and treatment providers.
Ethics consults consist of a process whereby facts are gathered from all relevant persons, values are elucidated and prioritized, and recommendations made so as to honor as much as possible the priority of values.
Who can use the consultation service?
- patients or their families
- allied health care professionals
Who staffs the consultation service?
In most cases, ethics consults involve a multidisciplinary team of persons from the ethics committee led by a member trained and/or experienced in medical ethics theory and consult management.
Is a consultation confidential?
Yes; the identities of those requesting consultations and all data, ideas and ethical issues are confidential. With permission of the parties involved, de-identified descriptions of cases may be requested for educational purposes.
What are some examples of situations that may need an ethics consultation?
The issues involved in ethics consultations have included such matters as
- differences of opinion about whether to stop aggressive end-of-life treatment and switch a patient to palliative care only
- whether psychiatric patients can refuse surgery or medical treatment
- uncertainty about who can best serve as surrogate decision maker for an unconscious patient
- disagreements among family members about the treatment choices for an incompetent patient
- demands for treatment that are considered futile by physicians
- doubts about what treatments are in the best interests of the patient
- uncertainty about treatment choices that are based on religious or cultural imperatives
- the extent to which non-medical facts and circumstances impact a decision to offer organ transplant for a particular patients
- whether a patient is being made to suffer unnecessarily by reducing or withdrawing pain medication
- how to best protect a patient from the harmful acts of a close family member
Sponsored by Stanford Hospital & Clinics, Stanford Health Library provides free public access to medical information, to help people make informed decisions about their health and health care.
The library offers online health information and videos, as well as a main location and five branches staffed by helpful reference librarians.
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The Stanford Hospital & Clinics Patient Privacy website provides information about:
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- Notice of Privacy Practices
- Your rights regarding medical information about you
The Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC) is the Bay Area's leading independent, population-based research organization and is dedicated to its mission of preventing cancer and improving the quality of life for those living with cancer.
CPIC works to explore the causes of cancer, aid prevention, and ensure that cancer prevention and treatment strategies benefit all people. CPIC provides education about cancer prevention, treatment and survivorship options.
CPIC is a nationally recognized leader in epidemiological studies of cancer and is partnered with the Stanford Cancer Center in creating a comprehensive cancer research and community outreach enterprise in Northern California.
Medline Plus is a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health that offers free, reliable, up-to-date health information.
The Medline Plus website brings you information about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues in language you can understand.
This NIH website is a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. The site includes:
- Health Topics A-Z
- Clinical Trials Information
- Health Hotlines – NIH Information Lines
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides a website for information about participating in clinical trials. This site includes the following information:
- Basic Questions and Answers about Clinical Trials
- Clinical Trials of Medical Treatments: Why Volunteer?
- 21 CFR 50 (informed consent regulations)
- Interactive patient education tutorial on clinical trials
- National Library of Medicine's Medline Plus (basic information about clinical trials
- Reporting Complaints Related to FDA-Regulated Clinical Trials
- Good Clinical Practice Contacts