Registry matches patients, scientists

I recently joined ResearchMatch, an Internet-based registry for people interested in participating in medical research studies.

Ohio State University President Gordon Gee, with two undergraduate students, supports the research study volunteer recruitment effort on ResearchMatch Day at OSU.

ResearchMatch, which is supported by the National Institutes of Health, creates an opportunity to be matched with various types of studies from elite biomedical research institutions nationwide.

The goal is to bring together individuals who wish to participate in clinical research studies with researchers overseeing the studies.

This system meets two important needs: those of people to find research studies related to their specific health condition and those of researchers looking to enroll enough subjects into their studies to ensure the work is scientifically valid.

Participation in a clinical research study also is a wonderful way to contribute to the future health of society. I have experienced this sense of contributing firsthand. It feels great.

In the 1990s, I volunteered in the earliest clinical research studies on a nose spray for influenza vaccination. At the time, it seemed like a far-fetched idea to spray a vaccine up the nose, avoid a shot and prevent the flu. Not bad.

The first trial was a side-effect study. Either a placebo (probably salt water) or vaccine was given as a spray into my nose. I kept detailed notes on a spreadsheet over the next few days and gave blood samples a few times to assess my immune response to the vaccine.

The exact details of the next trial are harder to recall, but I think there was the traditional injection into the upper-arm muscle and the experimental or placebo nose spray given at the same time. Again, careful notes and a few blood samples were taken to compare responses.

Fast forward to fall 2010. Flumist is now an FDA-approved, widely used and effective nose spray for flu vaccination.

Ironically, I am now too old to receive it. My son, though, is most grateful for the option of the nose spray that I helped develop by participating in a medical research study many years ago.

In the interest of full disclosure, his younger sister thought a shot into the arm was better than a puff up the nose.

Go figure. I guess it is nice to have options.

Since I signed up, a ResearchMatch study already has been forwarded to my email inbox. A research team in South Carolina wants to do a simple survey on my attitudes about access to mental-health services.

The researchers do not yet know my name or how to contact me. If I accept the study, they will get my email address and the contact will be initiated.

Since it is anonymous, declining participation in a study is actually easier than ignoring a friend request on Facebook.

Over the years, I have participated in a number of other research studies as a healthy volunteer, but the positive experience with the flu nasal spray vaccine study is one reason I registered for ResearchMatch.

Registration is free, secure, and only takes a few minutes at ResearchMatch.org.

Used with permission from The Columbus Dispatch – originally published 04.03.2011


Dr. John Barnard physician and scientist

Read more posts from Dr. Barnard

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Categories: Opportunities to Participate in Research, The Researcher's Point of View

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