Four types of clinical trials
Fred Hutchinson researchers conduct all four types of clinical trials:
Three phases of clinical trials
After they show promising results in laboratory and animal studies, new treatments or drugs are tested in an orderly series of steps, called phases. This allows researchers to ask and answer questions in a way that results in reliable information and protects patients. Clinical trials usually are classified into one of three phases:
Institutional review boards play key role in trial safety
Doctors and nurses play an important role in ensuring the safety of clinical trials.
So do financial advisers, homemakers, rabbis and many others with diverse careers and backgrounds.
Non-scientists who represent a diverse patient population are vital members of institutional review boards (IRBs), the federally mandated committees that oversee all new and ongoing research that involves human subjects.
"Community members on our IRB play a critical role in ensuring that research protocols and informed consent documents can be easily interpreted by patients," said Karen Hansen, director of Fred Hutchinson's Institutional Review Office.
"Along with the doctors, researchers and nurses, community members make active contributions to IRB deliberations as full voting members of the board."
IRB members volunteer their time, typically reviewing about 20 topics at monthly meetings that frequently last several hours.
Jim Mirel, a rabbi in Bellevue who has taught courses on medical ethics, joined one of the center's two IRBs in the fall of 2000. "We bring the perspective of the patient,' he said.
"We help provide the necessary outside objective scrutiny of human-subjects research. I know it's federally mandated, but the formality of it impressed me."
Deborah Juarez, a financial advisor frem Seattle, said that her respect for the patients who participate in clinical trials motivates her to serve as an IRB member.
"It's very clear our role is to act as a lay person, someone who can read and understand the documents," she said. "I try to ask myself, under what conditions will a patient be reading this? If I were in that position, how would I respond?"