Published March 13, 2014
The University at Buffalo is participating in the free national registry ResearchMatch, which pairs scientists conducting clinical trials with volunteers who would consider participating.
More than 53,200 potential volunteers have registered nationally to date, including 300 in the Buffalo area.
UB — one of 87 participating institutions — joined ResearchMatch last fall through its affiliation with the Rochester-based Upstate New York Translational Research Network.
“As part of this important national clinical research network, we will expand our research capabilities substantially,” says Timothy F. Murphy, MD, director of the UB Clinical and Translational Science Institute.
In conjunction with this growth, ResearchMatch is expected to play an important role in successful subject recruitment.
The CTRC’s expanded Clinical Research Center also will facilitate this growth. Murphy plans to develop the center and its Clinical Trials Office into a centralized resource for UB and its health care partners, providing comprehensive support for clinical research funded by all sources.
ResearchMatch is already proving its worth to some UB researchers.
For her project validating sleep study methods, Carla Jungquist, PhD, assistant professor of nursing, used the system to recruit 300 subjects in Buffalo and Rochester in just six months.
Without this service, getting enough subjects who meet the study criteria “would have taken me about two years,” she says.
On the ResearchMatch website, she entered inclusion and exclusion data and immediately received a list of 500 potential subjects. She narrowed the list to 200 by adding age and health criteria. The database then randomly selected 100 subjects, who were notified of their eligibility via email.
“We (used to) put ads in newspapers and other media, which cost money and can be very slow. You also get a lot of people who don’t qualify.”
The online system also gives investigators a quick, simple way to test the feasibility of a study idea.
In a matter of minutes and at no cost, “you can find out how many registered ResearchMatch volunteers from the area meet your criteria for a proposed study,” says Pamela K. Anderson, a UB ResearchMatch liaison and manager of the Clinical Trials Office in the CTRC.
“You don’t need an approved protocol,” she says.
In addition, the system makes it easy for volunteers to participate.
“Many people want to volunteer for clinical studies but do not know how to get started,” says Murphy, who is a SUNY Distinguished Professor of medicine and UB senior associate dean for clinical and translational research. “ResearchMatch is a great way to learn about research being done on both the local and national levels, and to get involved.”
“The entire Western New York population now has easy access to participate in cutting-edge studies of the latest treatments and health care methods,” he says.
Aside from contributing to groundbreaking research, participants benefit from the personal attention they receive, notes Kimberly Brunton, clinical research nurse manager at the CTRC.
“You are working with a UB medical researcher who says, ‘Here’s my card; call me if you need me,’ in addition to providing an extra pair of eyes on you throughout the study,” she says.
Parents can register their children for ResearchMatch as well, easily accessing information about the latest research related to a child’s condition.
Study participants also may be compensated for their time and expenses.
While most studies are medical or health-related, others involve social or behavioral research. Both healthy individuals and those who meet specific disease criteria are needed.
Formats also vary; some studies are online only and others require visits to a laboratory or physician’s office.
All studies are approved by one of UB’s three Institutional Review Boards.
Volunteers can choose whether to participate as they receive more details about available studies.
They initially provide information online about their health status, demographics, availability and interests, for example, then receive emails explaining any study for which they match.
They must agree to be contacted by an investigator before their information is forwarded.