Medical research is the careful, organized investigation of human health and disease. Improved medical care is based on scientific medical research.
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Medical research provides a special opportunity for members of the community to join forces with our pioneering physicians, nurses and researchers. Research is conducted throughout Loyola University Health System (Loyola) including Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing.
As part of a distinguished health system and teaching hospital, Loyola contributes to medical research with more than 120 clinical research studies and numerous nursing studies each year. Volunteer participants are a necessary and important part of our commitment to health-care research. Working together, we can answer important health-care questions that will lead to breakthroughs and better health now and in the future.
Medical research is conducted in several ways:
- Clinical Research – These studies are done with the help of volunteers (patients or other volunteers) to answer specific questions about current or new treatments, diagnostic tests and other clinical issues. One popular form of clinical research is the clinical trial, which is the best way to compare two (or more) aspects of health care, such as treatments.
- Basic Science Research – This form of research is done in laboratories to test specific ideas (a scientific hypothesis) and gain greater understanding of a clinically relevant subject.
- Translational Research – Translational research is the interface between clinical and basic science research. At Loyola, patient-oriented research teams work together closely to “translate” basic science more quickly to clinical applications and improved patient care.
Loyola is nationally recognized for its groundbreaking research in a wide range of disciplines, including cancer, cardiology, burn and trauma, infectious disease, and immunology and urogynecology. Research involves people of different ages, genders, diseases, previous treatments and other health conditions. You and your family may qualify for participation in medical research. A newer way for patients to participate in medical research is to donate their leftover body tissue following a biopsy or surgery to our tissue repository.
Learn about medical research to help you decide if participating is right for you.
See our current clinical research.
For more information, call (888) LUHS-888.
Review our Frequently Asked Questions
Clinical research involves human volunteers in the study of human health and disease. Research can be as simple as completion of a health survey or may be more involved with testing of a cutting-edge therapy for a life-threatening disease. An important subgroup of clinical research is a clinical trial.
A clinical trial is a special form of clinical research in which participants who volunteer help evaluate a new medical test and/or treatments. trials are often used to find new and improved methods of treating diseases and special conditions.
Participants in research:
- help others in the future, even future generations of their own families
- may have access to investigational drugs and procedures before they are widely available.
- may be the first to benefit from a new method under study
- receive watchful attention to changes in their health from a member of the research team
- make valuable contributions to medical research
Participants are told about any known risks or side effects of tests and/or treatments before the clinical research begins. As with regular clinical care treatments may:
- have side effects or risks unknown to the doctors
- be ineffective or less effective than existing treatments
- not work for you, even if it is effective for others
All our medical research is in full compliance with federal research regulations and recommendations. We highly value on-going surveillance for the health, safety and privacy of our research participants.
Before any clinical research starts at Loyola, the research plan is carefully reviewed by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) which is a committee of physicians, nurses and non-medical people. The primary responsibility of the IRB is to make sure that research participants are protected.
Potential research participants are provided a written document (research consent) that has been approved by the IRB. This written document reviews the important potential risks and benefits, as well as the important scientific reasons why the medical study is being performed. You may keep your copy of this document.
Research involves people of different ages, gender, diseases and health histories. People with the right mix of characteristics for a particular study may be eligible to participate. Eligibility criteria also help to exclude people with a condition or characteristic that may increase their risk during participation. For these reasons, not all volunteers for a clinical research will qualify to participate.
Yes, depending on the type of research. Some studies recruit healthy volunteers to explore health, diagnostic tests, disease prevention or to best doses for new therapies.
Typically a research team is lead by a single individual (the principal investigator), additional individuals (co-investigators) and research nurses. Other behind the scenes research team members includes data managers and coordinators. All these individuals have completed a test that certifies them to participate in human research.
You may be asked to consider volunteering by a member of your health care team. Regardless of your research participation decision, your doctors will continue to take excellent care of you. For other studies, you may call to determine if you or a family member qualifies for the research program. Depending on the particular study, during the typical first research visit, a member of the research team will take a medical history, run basic laboratory tests and perform a physical exam. Also, the details of the study, including the potential benefits and risks, will be discussed during the visit.
If you agree to participate in the study, you will be asked to follow the instructions of the research team and tell them about any changes in health during the course of the trial. For most studies, participants will have regularly scheduled follow-up appointments for researchers to check their condition, and collect information from tests and/or treatment results. The number and duration of these appointments vary from trial to trial. Participants may request that lab results be sent to their primary doctor so that they will not need to have tests repeated during non-trial exams. By consenting to participate, a study participant plans to complete all research tasks as explained by the research team and in trial documents – so that participation will produce accurate research information. However, at any point, a participant may withdraw from clinical research without jeopardizing clinical care.
If you are asked to participate in a clinical research, you have the right to ask questions and the right to choose not to participate. Your decision will never affect your relationship with your doctor or the care you receive at Loyola. Consider your research participation carefully. You may wish to discuss this decision with your regular doctor and family.
The length of a clinical research study varies from a single visit to several days up to several years. Potential research participants will be told how long the study is expected to run and what specific time commitment will be required of them.
Clinical research visits will be held at one or more of the Loyola University Health System locations, including the Loyola Outpatient Center in Maywood, Ill., and 17 primary and specialty care centers throughout DuPage, Will and western Cook counties. Your research team can tell you more details based on the specific study of interest.
As with your normal clinical care, health care costs are paid for by you or your insurance company. However, research costs are usually paid for when there is special testing, treatments or extra doctor visits that are required for research only.
Clinical research is paid for in several ways. Through taxpayers’ money, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provide researchers with research funds to improve the health of Americans. An NIH-sponsored clinical trial paid for by all of us. Several other governmental agencies fund research in a similar way. Another common way to pay for clinical research is by a pharmaceutical company, medical device and equipment manufacturer, health-care institution or private organization.
Information about specific trial sponsorship is available to those considering participation. Some clinical research studies provide small financial payments to cover the costs of travel for participants.
When a clinical research study is completed, the research team carefully examines the collected data and shares the results with the medical community. Usually, results are published in a scientific or medical journal. Particularly important results often are featured by the news media and widely discussed at scientific meetings and by patient advocacy groups. A drug or intervention proven safe and effective in a clinical trial is incorporated into standard health-care practice. A participant’s individual medical information and test results will be explained during the trial. Once a trial is over, researchers will let individuals know if there is opportunity to participate in any future trial phase.