Vanderbilt-designed Website Matches Volunteers to Clinical Trials

One of the more difficult parts of setting up a clinical research study is often finding the right volunteers. A registry designed at Vanderbilt University seeks to make that process easier for researchers all over the country.

Dr. Paul Harris says there are plenty of people willing to participate in studies, the difficulty comes in finding them. That’s where ResearchMatch.org comes in.

There, potential volunteers register online, entering their demographic information, health conditions, and how far they’re willing to travel for a study. Alerts are sent to people who are potential matches for a project. They’re given a choice of whether their names and contact information may be sent to the scientists conducting that particular project.

A team lead by Harris designed the website. With a national registry, he says researchers don’t have to be limited to what volunteers they can find close by.

“You could imagine very large scale survey-type studies where you’ve got a ready and willing group of individuals who are ready to answer questions about all sorts of things.”

Harris says it should be especially helpful for research into uncommon conditions.

“In those rare disease cases, there probably aren’t enough patients around Vanderbilt University or even the state of Tennessee to get the number that would be needed for some of the studies.”

Harris says once a study finds them, patients with those rare conditions may be willing to travel longer distances for studies in hopes of finding better treatment than what’s already available.

The site will be used by a consortium of about 50 research institutions, all of which get funds from the National Institutes of Health.

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