Seattle Vaccine Trials Unit

Imagine a World Without HIV

There’s no doubt the world is desperately in need of an HIV vaccine. Seattle Vaccine Trials Unit (VTU) is leading the fight against HIV/AIDS. We pursue innovative prevention strategies against HIV and even the common cold.

You can make an impact by joining one of our paid research studies.

Volunteer for a Study

We need volunteers to help move science toward a preventive vaccine. Sign up now to see if you can help with one of our paid studies.

HIV Preventive Vaccine Studies

We are enrolling healthy, hiv-negative volunteers for HIV vaccine studies that are being coordinated by networks such as the HIV Vaccine Trials Network and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. The products used in all our studies are NOT produced from live HIV or from HIV-infected human cells. These study vaccines cannot cause HIV infection. 

Observational Mucosal Studies

Mucosal Studies gain an understanding of how the immune system works in specific areas of the body. This knowledge will enable us to develop better ways to prevent HIV infection and develop an HIV vaccine.

HIV Cohort Studies

Observational studies help us learn more about the immune system in people. There are no medications or vaccines given. We are conducting a number of observational, also known as cohort, studies. 

Join a Paid Study

Community Partnerships

Our Invaluable Community Partnerships

Our work would not be possible without the local community’s dedication to collaboration and to getting involved and making a difference. Some of our longstanding partnerships are with great groups such as, African American Reach and Teach Ministries, Entre Hermanos, Gay City, POCAAN and Lifelong AIDS Alliance.

Working together to end the HIV/AIDS pandemic, our partners and volunteers contribute by:

  • Joining our studies
  • Participating as an advisor on our Community Advisory Board
  • Advocating and supporting our research and those who participate in our studies

VTU is committed to fostering and maintaining meaningful, collaborative and mutually beneficial relationships with our community partners and volunteers. We respect cultural values and diversity, and we maintain diverse perspectives among our staff and advisory boards.

Meet the Team

As a parent, part of the reason I do this research is to create a brighter future for my son's generation. It makes my work that much more important to me.

— Julie McElrath, Director, Seattle VTU

Frequently Asked Questions

Our research studies aim to ease human suffering as a result of HIV. Volunteers are critical to this work.

It is important to us that you understand more about participating in our studies as well as the diseases we are working against. Below is a list of the most frequently asked questions we’ve heard from our study participants.

How do I join a study?


Call or text us at (425) 610-6448 so we may ask you a few simple questions and schedule a screening visit.

You will be given plenty of time to consider whether or not you want to join the study. If you do enroll, you may still leave the study at any time without losing the benefits of your standard medical care or any other services provided at our location.

During the study, clinicians will monitor you to ensure your safety. Throughout the study, any new information researchers learn about the study products will be shared with study participants.

Do I get paid for my time in the study?

Yes! Each study has a different compensation amount for your time and inconvenience.

Who is eligible to participate in a study?


Each study has its own unique set of criteria.
Most of all we are looking for people who are committed to making a difference in the world.

If I volunteer, is there any way I can change my mind later?


Although we would like our volunteers to be committed to completing the study, you are free to withdraw from the study at any time.

I work from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and I can’t get off work. Do you have Saturday appointments or evening appointments?


Currently we have staff available from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. most weekdays and on Wednesdays we are in from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. We are closed on Saturdays and Sundays. You would need to be able to have a few 90-minute appointments for vaccination visits. If you can get in to work at 8:30 a.m. a few times a year or leave work early at 4 p.m. or take an extended lunch break, you might be able to join. 

How will the safety and rights of participants be protected?


Study participants play a very important role in our research, and the safety and rights of participants are given the highest priority. Our studies meet international standards for ethical research that were created by the Helsinki Declaration of the World Medical Association and Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS) guidelines.

During an HIV vaccine study, all of the data is reviewed by a Safety Monitoring Board. This group of experts can stop the study at any time if they feel that the risks for participants are too great.

In addition, our study location works with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institutional Review Board (IRB), sometimes called an Ethics Committee, that reviews all of the details of the study. These groups also make certain that the rights of participants are protected.

It is important for participants to know that any new study product may have both medical and non-medical risks, and there may be additional risks that we do not know about yet.

Before you join a study, volunteers are provided with information about the reasons for the study, about possible risks and benefits, and about study procedures. Clinic staff will allow plenty of time to talk with volunteers and answer their questions, and information is also provided in writing.

I am going to move out of the Seattle area in five months. Can I still join?


Give us a call or text! Some of our studies are short and others are longer. We will tell you about the studies that are available based on the criteria and your scheduling needs.

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