Clinical Trials Day, sponsored by the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP), commemorates the day when James Lind started his famous clinical trial on scurvy - 20th May 1747 - and laid the foundation for modern clinical research. It is an opportunity for research organisations, clinical research professionals, and the public to acknowledge the achievements that result from clinical research and to discuss various trial topics.
The theme for this year's Be Part of Research campaign is TrialBlazers (yes, that's T-R-I-A-L Blazers!). The two-week campaign (16-29 May) centres around Clinical Trials Day and as part of today's celebrations, we've been speaking to some of our volunteers directly, to gather their views on why participating in research is important.
Read below the testimonies from three participants who took part in a recent study called AgeVax, which investigated the generation of antibody responses to vaccines in older individuals, with the aim of improving knowledge so that we can change the way vaccines are designed specifically for older members of our communities. Recruitment for the study was led by Study Coordinator, Kalpita Sakharkar, who recruited 74 volunteers to take part. Each volunteer was required to visit our clinic at the at the BioResource Centre Cambridge, to donate 50 mL of blood on four separate occasions: an initial donation, again on the day after their flu vaccine, again 7 days later, and a final appointment approximately 6 months later.
Ian, one of our wonderful research participants said:
"I have an interest in medicine and the advancements made in science. I am grateful to the NHS for all their work and have been donating blood for 55 years, so that’s why I take part in research.
"My latest trial was for a flu study and I have to give several blood samples over a period of time, all the appointments have been fine.
"Research is important because medicine can’t advance without it. The more people that can help means more health conditions could be resolved."
David explains what first prompted him to volunteer for research:
"I have just taken part in a flu vaccine study and donated my last blood sample. It was really easy and straightforward.
"The first study I ever took part in was for prostate cancer several years ago, and by chance, the team found cancer cells even though I had no symptoms and I was able to get it treated quickly.
"That prostate study saved my life, if it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t be here today. Research is important and we need more people to take part."
As part of the Be Part of Research campaign, the NIHR commissioned this emotive poem by Emily Kate Groves, to celebrate all the TrialBlazers out there.
Another of our research volunteers, Gillian, had this to say about why she participates in health research:
"I started taking part in research because a family member had health problems and I wanted to help future patients and the NHS.
"My last trial was for a COVID-19 study and I was asked to donate some blood. It’s really quick and I’ve never had to wait. I donate a sample and then I can get on with my day. Everyone is really nice here.
"Research is a great way to learn about diseases and it can improve healthcare. Taking part is such a small thing but it makes a big difference and it feels like you’re giving something back."
How can I get involved?
TrialBlazers are members of the public that choose to volunteer in research. They volunteer to learn more about a condition that affects them, to support medical research for a particular condition or disease that they care about, or to access new treatments.
There are hundreds of studies in need of volunteers right now. Search by location or by condition and become a TrialBlazer today.
You can also join the BioResource to be considered for the many and varied research studies we support. Your genetic information is extracted from an initial blood or saliva sample and combined with your health records and a health and lifestyle questionnaire. This complete profile is available for researchers who want to investigate the links between our genes, the environment, health and disease. #
Anyone 16 and over can join, whether you have a health condition or not. We also recruit patients with specific common and rare diseases via the clinical setting. Please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more or follow the links above about joining.
Want to make a difference?
If you join us, you are helping to speed the progress of medical research. Every one of us makes a difference.