Since its establishment in 1921, Cleveland Clinic has pursued a mission of unlocking basic science and pursuing clinical research.
Basic research involves experiments and studies that occur in a laboratory setting. Clinical trials, on the other hand, rely on the participation of human volunteers in order to answer questions about treatments for diseases and conditions.
Research conducted at Cleveland Clinic involves a spectrum of efforts, including:
- Searches for genes that cause heart disease
- Use of stem cells to fix problematic bone damage
- Use of special implants to manage neurologic disorders.
Cleveland Clinic researchers focus on an array of conditions, including breast and liver cancer, coronary artery disease, heart failure, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and eating disorders.
At Cleveland Clinic, basic, or discovery, research is conducted in labs based in clinical departments and throughout the Lerner Research Institute. Many Cleveland Clinic staff members hold joint appointments in clinical departments and the Lerner Research Institute.
The Lerner Research Institute is an integrated research community with an emphasis on disease-focused research. Investigators collaborate extensively with their clinical colleagues to find solutions to specific medical problems. With more than 175 staff investigators and annual research expenditures exceeding $250 million, it is one of the largest private research facilities in the country. In 2012, the institute received $109 million in federal research funding.
Projects involving basic research occur across Cleveland Clinic's campus; however, the bulk of these efforts are conducted at our Lerner Research Institute. There, scientists from a spectrum of disciplines collaborate and interact to unlock the secrets of genes, cells and organs and to find solutions to specific medical problems.
The Lerner Research Institute is one of the largest private research facilities in the United States, with hundreds of principal investigators, project scientists, research associates and postdoctoral fellows, with total annual research expenditures exceeding $150 million from federal agencies, non-federal societies and associations and endowment funds. Currently, investigators and their teams are pursuing a range of biomedical questions.
The Clinical & Translational Science Collaborative (CTSC) KL2 will produce future leaders for the nation’s clinical research workforce. Our Clinical Research (CR) Scholars will complete the training program with the knowledge and skills to conduct cutting-edge translational clinical research and to lead teams of investigators who recognize the mutuality of different research paradigms – ranging from molecular medicine to public health sciences.
In general, clinical trials are used to test the safety and effectiveness of drugs and medical procedures in a human population. This ongoing collaboration between physician investigators and study volunteers is one of the foundations of modern healthcare, because clinical trials help set the standards for patient care.
There are potential benefits, as well, for clinical trial volunteers. For instance, volunteers with existing diseases or conditions can play a more active role in their own healthcare, gain access to new research treatments before they are widely available and help others by contributing to medical research.
Today, Cleveland Clinic is running more than 2,000 clinical trials of various types. For more information about clinical trials, see our clinical trial guide for research patients, presented by the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute.
Ensuring Clinical Trial Safety
Every clinical trial in the United States must be approved and monitored by an Institutional Review Board (IRB). An IRB is an independent committee of physicians, statisticians, community advocates and others whose objective is to ensure that a clinical trial is ethical and the rights of study participants are protected. Cleveland Clinic's IRB includes nurses, bioethicists, attorneys and a social worker.
The IRB also reviews the proposed clinical trial protocol to ascertain that the risks involved in participating in a trial are significantly outweighed by the potential benefits. Federal law stipulates that all institutions that conduct or support biomedical research involving people must have an IRB that initially approves and periodically reviews the research projects.
Federal regulations and policies protect subjects in clinical research protocols, ensuring that their safety is given the highest priority. These regulations complement the policies of academic institutions that host the GCRCs.
Research Subject Advocate
Proper performance of research consent and oversight procedures makes demands on the time of busy clinical researchers. To address these demands, the NCRR has created a Research Subject Advocate position within each GCRC. The purpose of this position is to assure that all steps are taken to maximize patient safety as detailed in the protocols approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB).
If you have questions about your rights as a research participant, you can contact Cleveland Clinic's IRB office at: 216.444.2924 or IRB@ccf.org.
Research at Cleveland Clinic: Helping you make an informed decision
As a patient at Cleveland Clinic, you may be asked to participate in a research study. This pamphlet provides answers to common questions or concerns about volunteering for research.