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Clinical Research 101

What is clinical research?

Clinical research studies are medical experiments that involve people like you. They help to find new ways to safely and effectively prevent, discover and cure diseases. Clinical research studies are also called clinical trials.

Clinical trials are a big deal! Special doctors and scientists, called investigators start with an idea for a treatment, and then complete experiments in the lab to test new treatments or procedures, and then they test them on animals. The ones that seem to work the best are then tested on people in a clinical trial. Clinical trials move through a series of steps called phases, where investigators learn more information about the treatment, like what the right amount of the medication is (the dose), how safe the treatment is for people, how well it works (efficacy).

Each clinical trial has a set of rules, called criteria, that describes who can join. Children as well as adults, healthy volunteers and people with illnesses, and people of a diverse range of ethnic and racial backgrounds can take part in clinical trials.

Clinical trials follow a plan, called a protocol, that describes what you will be doing and what you can expect from the research team. It is important to understand the risks and benefits of being part of a clinical trial before joining one. You also have rights and protections as a participant in clinical trials. (Adapted from

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