During the past decade, powerful and productive medical innovations have delivered more than 4,000 experimental drugs and interventions into active clinical trials around the world. But the success of these innovations – ultimately measured by improvements in the quality of patients’ lives and by the availability of new treatments and cures for unmet medical needs – depends entirely on the millions of people who participate in clinical trials each year. We call these brave individuals medical heroes.

Everyday heroes

Medical heroes are mothers and fathers, siblings, children, friends, and colleagues who have chosen to give the extraordinary gift of participation in clinical research. Their decision is a selfless act because participation always carries risk but is unlikely to bring any direct personal benefit.  While it is true that participation may bring hope to patients and their loved ones, ultimately it is future generations who are the direct recipients of the benefits of clinical trials.   Medical heroes profoundly contribute to our society’s collective knowledge about the nature of disease, its progression and possible treatments.

Medical heroes are at the very heart of life-saving research innovation. We owe them our deepest appreciation for their profound gift of participation.

For the vast majority of people, the idea of participating in a clinical trial is new.  Most people stumble upon clinical trials when faced with the sudden and often unexpected prospect of an illness for which no medication is available or adequate. Typically, patients and their health care providers must gather information quickly to make decisions about whether to participate or not.  This rush to navigate the unfamiliar terrain of clinical trials invariably feels like an overwhelming and confusing undertaking.

Raising awareness

Sixteen years ago, the Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP) was founded to provide outreach and education to those individuals considering participation in clinical trials. Based in the Boston area but with global reach, this nonprofit organization focuses its energy and resources on raising general awareness, educating patients and the public, and on enhancing study volunteer experiences during and after clinical trial participation.

This special supplement is part of CISCRP’s ongoing effort to raise public awareness about the importance of clinical research and to increase public recognition of the millions of study volunteers and clinical research professionals who, together, help advance medical knowledge.  

Medical heroes are at the very heart of life-saving research innovation. We owe them our deepest appreciation for their profound gift of participation.