Clinical Trials for Patients

Welcome to the Clinical Trials Office Web site at Columbia University Irving Medical Center!

As you consider treatment options for yourself or a loved one, you may be considering participation in a clinical trial. But what is a clinical trial? Why do people participate in these studies? The information and links below will provide you with more information about clinical trials: what they are, how they work, and other resources that may be available to you.

What is a clinical trial?

A clinical trial is a study designed to answer a specific question about the safety or efficacy of a drug, a device, or other interventions. These studies provide opportunities for patients to volunteer for cutting-edge treatments, which allow doctors to examine the benefits and risks of using these drugs. Clinical trials are designed to find out if a drug works and is safe for people to take.

Why participate in a clinical trial?

People choose to participate in clinical trials for reasons as individual as they are. Clinical trials can either enhance treatment, or be a treatment option. Some people seek clinical trials when other treatment options have not been successful. Here are just a few of the many reasons people choose to participate in these studies:

  • Many, if not all, treatment drugs and tests are free to study participants.
  • Successful clinical trials may improve the length and quality of life for study participants.
  • Clinical trials provide an opportunity to take positive action by contributing to the understanding of a disease or condition and by furthering treatment options available to others.
  • Patients in successful clinical trials are the first to benefit from these cutting-edge treatments.