Tag Archives: clinical research

Member spotlight: the Association for Psychological Science

By Alan G. Kraut, Executive Director of the Association for Psychological Science

Kraut_Alan_APSIn the minds of many people, there is a separation between biomedical research and behavioral research. But that separation is artificial. Behavior is at the core of many health problems. Six out of 10 of the leading causes of premature death, including heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, are linked in part to genetic influences but also to controllable behaviors like physical inactivity, poor diet and smoking.

Our 25,000 members are scientists and educators at the nation’s universities and colleges, conducting federally funded basic and applied, theoretical, and clinical research.  They look at such things as the connections between emotion, stress, and biology and the impact of stress on health; they look at ways to manage debilitating chronic conditions such as diabetes and arthritis as well as depression and other mental disorders; they look at how genes and the environment influence behavioral traits such as aggression and anxiety; and they address the behavioral aspects of smoking and drug and alcohol abuse.

Just as there exists a layered understanding, from basic to applied, of how molecules affect brain cancer, there is a similar spectrum for behavioral research.  Continue reading →

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ACRO’s new video series about the importance of clinical research

Clinical research is key to saving lives, lowering health care costs and reducing waste and inefficiencies in our health care system. To highlight the latest insights from prominent health and research leaders, The Association of Clinical Research Organization has launched a new video series about the importance of clinical research. In the latest installment, John Lewis, Vice President of Public Affairs interviews Research!America president and CEO, Mary Woolley about what’s next for research, the public perception of clinical trials and how we should encourage more minority participation in clinical trials. According to a recent Research!America poll, altruism is a strong motivating factor for clinical trial participation in the general population and more so among several minority groups. To view the series, check out @ACROHealthChannel.

Millennials Move On

By Tyler Wiechman

Wiechman currently works in the cardiovascular specialty of a privately owned pharmaceutical company working with specialists and hospitals in the Central Pennsylvania Region.  He withdrew from a PhD in biomedical sciences from the Penn State University Hershey College of Medicine and received his BS in Psychology from the University of Delaware in 2011. He has worked for three different labs focusing on Neurological/Psychological health and behavior. 

TylerWAspiring medical scientists face increasing pressure as they aim to eradicate a disease state, find a new genetic marker for cancer or any number of neurological diseases, or create the next clinically sound pharmaceutical product.  First, they have to excel in their bachelor’s level biological and laboratory sciences.  This commitment alone costs tens of thousands of dollars of tuition and other bills and an overwhelming amount of time, but during these intense four years they are also expected to volunteer hundreds of hours to their local hospital and gain independent research experience.  If that’s not enough, they spend the remainder of their precious time studying for the GRE and/or MCAT depending on the degree program they plan on pursuing.  Finally (and with a huge sigh of relief), the acceptance letter is opened and you pack your bags, move to a new apartment and begin the long and arduous road that is graduate level research.

So after putting forth this much work and making so many sacrifices (and of course getting ready to multiply those sacrifices and efforts tenfold) why does a young scientist leave clinical research?  This is especially troubling when many of these pupils have personal stakes in their research due to the loss of a family or friend or a problematic condition in their genetics.  First, it’s important to look at the numbers.  The troubling truth is that, on average, there is a fifty percent attrition rate from PhD programs around the country with an even higher rate (55-59%) in the life sciences. This number is unacceptable and alarming—and I’m a member of that group.  I speak from personal experience when I say that withdrawing from my PhD was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make—thankfully my work in the pharmaceutical industry and a close relationship with my former mentors still allows me to be active in the healthcare community, but many are not as lucky and abandon their passion completely. Continue reading →

New Poll Shows Minority Populations Support Clinical Trials to Improve Health of Others but Participation Remains Low Among African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians

Low Percentage Hear About Clinical Trials from Health Care Providers

 ALEXANDRIA, Va.—July  31, 2013—Altruism is a strong motivating factor for clinical trial participation in the general population and even more so among several minority groups. A significant percentage of African-Americans (61%), Hispanics (57%) and Asians (50%) say it’s very important to participate as a volunteer in a clinical trial to improve the health of others, compared to 47% of non-Hispanic whites, according to a new national public opinion poll commissioned by Research!America.

These findings are tempered by the reality that participation remains disturbingly low among all groups. When asked if they or someone in their family has ever participated in a clinical trial, only 17% of Hispanics, 15% of African-Americans, 15% of non-Hispanic whites and 11% of Asians said yes.

Only about a quarter of African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians say they have heard about clinical trials from their doctor or other health care provider. The percentage is even lower among non-Hispanic whites (19%). On the positive side, a strong majority — 75% of Hispanics, 72% of African-Americans, 71% of non-Hispanic whites and 65% of Asians — say they would likely participate in a clinical trial if recommended by a doctor.

“The poll reveals a willingness among minorities to participate in clinical trials to improve quality of health care, but enrollment remains stubbornly low,” said Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America. “We must continue to strive toward reaching all segments of the population to boost the level of participation in order to further medical progress.”

Lack of trust is a major reason that individuals don’t participate in clinical trials, according to more than half of African-Americans (61%), Hispanics (52%), Asians (51%) and non-Hispanic whites (54%). In fact, 40% of African-Americans believe people are enrolled in clinical trials without being told, compared to 36% of Hispanics, 35% of Asians and 27% of non-Hispanic whites who are of this opinion. When asked how important the competence and reputation of people of the institution conducting the research would be in the decision to participate as a volunteer in a clinical trial, 73% of African-Americans, 66% of Hispanics and 66% of Asians said very important, compared to 72% of non-Hispanic whites, reinforcing the importance of trust among all groups.  Continue reading →