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Clinical Trials Day 2021

Clinical Trials Day is a time to recognize the people who organize and carry out clinical trials and thank them for the work that they do every day to make our health better.

This day of celebration also gives us a way to be more aware of clinical trials and clinical research as a career.

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

Clinical Trials Day is celebrated around the world on May 20 to recognize the day that James Lind started what is believed to be the first clinical trial aboard a ship on May 20, 1747 - about 275 years ago!

James Lind was a British Navy surgeon and a doctor at the Haslar Hospital for men of the Royal Navy - the largest hospital in Europe. Dr. Lind noticed that more British sailors were dying from scurvy than were being killed while fighting in the war. Scurvy is a disease that comes about from not having enough Vitamin C in our bodies that causes an infection from bleeding from the gums (soft tissue) that hold teeth in the mouth. Scurvy damages the soft tissue and destroys the bone that holds the teeth.

Acting on a hunch (an idea or a guess) that scurvy was caused by the process of decay or rotting in the body (called putrefaction), Dr. Lind thought that it could be cured by taking in acids. He put 12 sailors in groups of two men to receive six different treatments for 14 days. The six treatments were:

  • Cider

  • Elixir vitriol (an acid made up of sulfur, oxygen, and hydrogen)

  • Vinegar

  • Seawater

  • Two oranges and a lemon

  • A medicinal paste made up of garlic, mustard seed, dried radish root, and gum myrrh

The men who ate the citrus fruits got well and got better faster than the five other treatments. Almost right away, only the two sailors who took the fruit got better, even though the oranges and lemons ran out after six days.

Lind compared citrus fruits to five other remedies (cures or medicines). He saw that the fruit worked much better than vinegar, cider, seawater, and other remedies.

Lind’s legacy lives on today through the work of tens of thousands of clinical trial workers in the United States and all of the world.


Hypothesis Haven Science Club is the first and only STEM program that goes behind the scenes of the clinical trials process to teach children the steps that doctors and scientists use to discover, treat and cure illnesses.

Our camps, workshops and after-school programs provide early exposure to clinical research careers and create innovative thinkers who are powered by science. Sign up for our mailing list to stay up-to-date on coming events!

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