Clinical Trials & Research at MUSC

As the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, MUSC values research as an essential component in our overall mission to preserve and optimize human life in South Carolina and beyond, and provide an environment that promotes learning, discovery and healing. In addition, MUSC has a goal of advancing new knowledge and scientific discoveries in an effort to impact the health of our patients and community. With research as a core component of MUSC’s overall mission and goals, patient and community participation in research studies is a vital part of MUSC’s ability to provide cutting edge treatments and exceptional healthcare. 

A research study is a type of investigation for which information is gathered in order to answer questions and/or solve a problem. There are many types of research studies. Some of the most common types include clinical trials (studies that involve an investigational treatment such as a drug or device), observational studies and survey studies. Research studies are necessary in order to discover better ways to prevent, screen for, diagnose and treat diseases.

Every study has a plan for how it will be conducted. The plan describes what will be done in the study, how it will be done, and why each part of the study is necessary. Each study also has its own rules about who can participate. One of the most important parts of any research study is the group of people who volunteer. Some studies need volunteers who meet very specific criteria. These volunteers may need to have a specific disease and/or be a certain age, gender, ethnicity, etc. Other types of research studies may have less restrictions on who can participate or may be looking for healthy volunteers. The type of volunteer needed for each study is determined by the research question that the study is trying to answer.
People volunteer for a variety of reasons including the potential benefit for themselves or their loved ones, the opportunity to do something that may help others, and to join the scientific community in advancing healthcare. One of the easiest ways to understand why research (and, more importantly, volunteering for research) is so important is to consider the fact that every medication that people take is available because of people who agree to participate in research studies. The decision to participate (or not participate) in a research study is voluntary. Those who decide to participate in a study are free to withdraw at any time without penalty.

Sometimes, people are hesitant to participate in research because they have concerns for their safety. It is important to note that every single research study is required to be reviewed for participant safety and protection. Safety is the number one priority for every study. In the United States, an independent committee of physicians, other scientists, and members of the community must approve and monitor the protocol for the safety of the participants. This committee is tasked with making sure that the potential risks of participating are reasonable in relation to the potential benefits the participants may gain. MUSC’s committee is called the Institutional Review Board (IRB).

Please use the following resources to help find a study that may be right for you.

SCresearch.org - The South Carolina Research Studies Directory designed specifically to help people, like you, locate research studies in which to participate. Browse by topic, location, and more.

Researchmatch.org - A not-for-profit online resource that matches people who want to participate in research with researchers throughout the country who need volunteers for their studies.

Hollings Cancer Center Trials - Cancer research clinical trials at MUSC.

Call 843-792-8300 and speak to a research professional about other study opportunities available at MUSC.

OHRP Resources [The Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP)] provides a variety of comprehensive resources about research participation and making informed decisions about research participation.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides wide-ranging resources concerning the research process, adult and child participation in research, and national research opportunities.

MUSC is dedicated to providing the highest level of care to both current and future generations. Research is at the core of making this possible, and patients are the core of research. There are several ways patients at MUSC may hear about potential research studies. One of the most common ways is at a regular doctor’s visit, where a patient’s doctor may present information on a research study as a treatment option for an illness. Since MUSC is an academic medical center that places an emphasis on research, MUSC patients may be contacted directly by research personnel with information about research opportunities. Based upon a patient’s medical history, a study doctor (or someone working with a study doctor) may contact the patient if there is the possibility that the patient may meet the criteria for participation in a specific research study.

Just as research participation is voluntary, patients at MUSC have a choice in determining how they are informed of research opportunities. Patients who do not want to be directly contacted by MUSC research personnel about potential research opportunities may choose to “opt-out.”

MUSC will track the number of times you are directly contacted by research personnel to ensure that you are not contacted too frequently. You will also not be contacted about every study; only those that for which you may have interest based on your medical history or demographics. When a study team contacts you, it is only to provide you information and determine your level of interest in learning more about the study. Being contacted by research personnel does not mean that you are automatically part of a research study or that you are required to participate. Research participation is voluntary.

If you would like to opt out of being contacted directly for research participation opportunities, please complete the steps outlined here. Choosing to opt-out will in no way effect the quality of care you receive as an MUSC patient. Please note, however, that even if you choose not to be contacted directly by MUSC research personnel, your doctors may still suggest research studies that they feel may assist with your medical care. If you have have decided to opt-out of receiving direct contact about potential research studies but change your mind in the future, you can return to your MyChart account at any time to update your preference.

Please call 843-792-8300 if you have questions. 

David Zaas, M.D., MBA, MUSC Health Chief Clinical Officer

"Seeking out clinical research for me was the chance to say, ‘I'm going to do everything I can to improve those odds and beat this disease’…We need to create more visibility for clinical research for those patients who want to pursue it, whether they want to pursue it because they believe that it will benefit others, or if they're like me, and they really want to do whatever they can and are willing to take that chance."

 

- David Zaas, M.D., MBA, MUSC Health Chief Clinical Officer