What is clinical research and what does it mean to my child and my family?

Clinical research is a scientific method used to learn more about childhood illnesses or conditions. It helps to develop and improve treatments.

Clinical research at St. Jude may answer questions about how well a drug works. It looks at which new procedures, medical tests, or treatments may help patients. Research is done in carefully designed studies called protocols. By agreeing to take part in a clinical research protocol, you may help improve treatments for serious diseases. For example, doctors and other research staff may look at how well a new drug works in children with leukemia. If the doctors see that the new drug works better than the standard treatment, it will continue being tested. Soon, it may become a standard treatment for other children.

The safety of your child in our clinical research studies is very important to the St. Jude staff. A scientific committee looks carefully at each protocol. Members determine that the questions to be answered in the study are of the highest importance. St. Jude also has an Institutional Review Board (IRB) that carefully studies each new clinical protocol. It is an important group of scientists, doctors, and members of the community that reviews each study and the informed consent process. The job of the IRB is to evaluate the benefits versus the risks and to make sure your rights are protected. The IRB reviews each protocol every year for safety.