What is Research?

Research is a carefully planned search for new information about health, diseases, medicine and treatments. Researchers use this information to see if new treatments are helpful, new tests can detect disease, or if new ways of caring for patients are successful. Research may also be called a “research study,” “medical research,” “clinical research study” or “clinical trial.”

Sign Up for a Clinical Trial

UC Health is the leader in academic research and we are leading the way in finding the next treatment for our patients. If you are interested in learning more about our clinical trials, email our team at officeofclinicalresearch@ucmail.uc.edu.

To find a clinical trial search our database or see the bulletin board listings of trials located at most UC Health locations.

Why is research needed?

Research is needed to improve health care and offer new solutions and hope for patients. Without it, physicians and scientists cannot develop new and improved diagnostic tools, medications, devices, or treatment protocols. In order for research to be successful, it must be done with the help of those most likely to benefit from it. In other words, research on a new drug, test or treatment must be done with the participation of people who have the kinds of illness or injury that the drug, test or treatment is being made for. Research studies with healthy people are also important. In some studies, researchers need to compare healthy volunteers with people who have a specific disease or condition.

What is a clinical trial?

A clinical trial, also known as a research study, is a carefully planned test. During clinical trials, researchers learn if a new test or treatment works and is safe. Treatments studied in clinical trials might be new drugs or new combinations of drugs, new surgical procedures or devices, or new ways to use existing treatments. The purpose of a clinical trial may be to learn more about:

  • Health
  • Diseases
  • Medicines
  • New treatments

What are the phases of clinical trials?

Most clinical research that involves the testing of a new drug progresses in an orderly series of steps, called phases. This allows researchers to ask and answer questions in a way that results in reliable information about the drug and protects the patients. Most clinical trials are classified into one of four phases:

  • Phase I trials: These first studies in people evaluate how a new drug should be given (by mouth, injected into the blood, or injected into the muscle), how often and what dose is safe. A phase I trial usually enrolls only a small number of patients, sometimes as few as a dozen.
  • Phase II trials: A phase II trial continues to test the safety of the drug, and begins to evaluate how well the new drug works. Phase II studies usually focus on a particular type of cancer.
  • Phase III trials: The experimental study drug or treatment is given to large groups of people to confirm its effectiveness, monitor side effects, compare it to commonly used treatments, and collect information that will allow the experimental drug or treatment to be used safely.
  • Phase IV trials: After a treatment has been approved and is being marketed, the drug’s maker may study it further in a phase IV trial. The purpose of phase IV trials is to evaluate the side effects, risks and benefits of a drug over a longer period of time and in a larger number of people than in phase III clinical trials. Thousands of people are involved in a phase IV trial.

Who can participate in a clinical trial?

All clinical trials have guidelines about who can participate. The factors that allow someone to participate in a clinical trial are called “inclusion criteria” and those that disallow someone from participating are called “exclusion criteria.” These criteria are based on such factors as age, gender, the type and stage of a disease, previous treatment history, and other medical conditions. It is important to note that inclusion and exclusion criteria are not used to reject people personally. Instead, the criteria are used to identify appropriate participants and keep them safe. Before joining a clinical trial, a participant must qualify for the study. Some research studies seek participants with illnesses or conditions to be studied in the clinical trial, while others need healthy participants. Some studies look at healthy volunteers to learn how to keep people well, while others compare healthy volunteers with those who have specific illnesses.

Why participate in a clinical trial?

Research studies depend on volunteers who agree to be a part of them. By volunteering, you can further medical knowledge and potentially help others. You can also:

  • Play an active role in your health care
  • Get access to new research treatments before they are widely available
  • Get expert medical care from study doctors at a top tier medical institution
  • Help others by contributing to medical research

What research studies are being conducted?

Researchers at UC Health are doing many different kinds of studies. Some studies test surgical techniques and new medicines, while some try to find out how to diagnose diseases more accurately and quickly. Other research studies look at improving how we practice medicine, deliver health care and prevent illness and injury. Find a study