SAN DIEGO – San Diegans interested in participating in research studies now have a new way to be connected with researchers who are conducting these studies, with the launch of ResearchMatch.org, the nation’s first disease-neutral volunteer recruitment registry.
ResearchMatch is the product of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Consortium, a national network of 46 medical research institutions funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The only San Diego institution participating in the ResearchMatch registry is the Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI), the sole Southern California-based institution to be selected to the CTSA consortium.
The ResearchMatch.org website offers an easy, free and secure way for volunteers to connect with researchers who are conducting studies on various health and disease topics. San Diegans can self-register online as potential volunteers for local studies based on their health profile and preferences. Once registered, volunteers are notified electronically by the registry when they are a possible match for a study. Volunteers’ personal information is protected until they authorize the release of their contact information for a specific study, and there is no obligation to participate.
In addition to offering a convenient alternative for volunteers looking for research studies, the not-for-profit registry offers scientists a new tool to address the complex and challenging recruitment process.
“Data from the NIH indicate that nationally, 85 percent of trials don’t finish on time due to patient recruitment issues,” said Dr. Eric J. Topol, director of STSI and chief academic officer of Scripps Health. “And 30 percent of trial sites fail to enroll even a single patient. The goal of ResearchMatch is to match potential patients with clinical trials, so that science can make a real difference for everyone’s health in the future.”
People of all ages and backgrounds living in the U.S. are welcome to consider joining ReseachMatch as a volunteer, regardless of their health condition. A parent, legal guardian or caretaker may register someone younger than 19, or someone unable to enter their own information.
In 2008, the NIH Awarded a $20 million CTSA grant to STSI. The CTSA program is focused on enhancing national and local efforts to enhance the translation of laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients. STSI is a unique community collaboration, including: Scripps Health; The Scripps Research Institute; the J. Craig Venter Institute; The Neurosciences Institute; Genomics Institute of Novartis Research Foundation; Burnham Institute for Medical Research; San Diego Supercomputer Center; The Salk Institute; San Diego State University; and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
At any given time there are approximately 500 clinical trials and investigations active across the Scripps Health system, with about 100 new trials added every year.
For the first year, only researchers affiliated with participating CTSA institutions may be eligible to use ResearchMatch. This currently includes 52 institutions nationwide that are part of the CTSA network. ResearchMatch is expected to be available to other institutions beyond the CTSA consortium by 2011.