Since its inception in November 2008, staff of the Research Participant Registry have received nearly 1,500 calls asking about specific studies in the program, and more than 300 people have been referred to study coordinators, said Steven E. Reis, M.D., CTSI director and associate vice chancellor for clinical research.
“Interest in this service has been steady since the beginning,” he noted. “We hope to make it easy for people to find out about the research that is going on right now at the university, and to encourage them to sign up to be part of the process of developing new treatments for a variety of health problems.”
The registry is expected to grow as all medical practices affiliated with UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) get registration materials to share with outpatients. But there is no need to wait to see a doctor; it’s possible to sign up through the registry website, said Laurel Yasko, M.P.P.M., R.N., CTSI administrative director of operations. There is no cost to join.
“We have about 100 studies that are actively recruiting participants, and a quarter of those are looking for healthy volunteers,” she said. “Most of these studies are being conducted by researchers in the School of Medicine, but every school on campus is represented in the registry.”
To register, individuals are asked to fill out a simple form giving demographic information such as age and sex and to check boxes indicating areas of interest, such as cancer, weight management and sleep disorders.
Registrants will then receive information about research relevant to the selected areas. Calls for more information are screened and, if initial eligibility criteria are met, referrals are made to the coordinator of the study of interest. All human studies are reviewed and monitored by the university’s Institutional Review Board.
The Research Participant Registry is supported by the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA), which funds Pitt’s CTSI and 45 other institutions in a national consortium to improve the way biomedical research is conducted. The consortium aims to reduce the time it takes for laboratory discoveries to become treatments for patients, to engage communities in clinical research efforts, and to train a new generation of clinical researchers. The CTSA program is led by the National Center for Research Resources, part of the National Institutes of Health.