Clinical Research

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once

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I would like to learn more about clinical research and how it differs from the more traditional concept of research (in a lab, reading literature, learning procedures). I am involved in research now that has medical applications, but I assume that this isn't "clinical research."

The name implies that its research done in a clinic and I have read a few posts on here about it, but what is a normal day like in clinical research? It can't be vastly different than normal research. Is the main difference that you have humans to test stuff on?

Flame if you want, but I want just a few good answers. Thanks.
 
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juliedi

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inb4letmegooglethatforyou

But srs, I think that you could find more helpful info about this with a google search than any info I could give you.
 

LizzyM

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No, a google search isn't going to be of much help...

in clinical research, you are doing research on human subjects.

The most common type of clinical research is the clinical trial. These are broken into 4 phases: Phase I looks at safety and dosing and is generally done with healthy adults or with very sick patients who are no longer responding to any treatment (cancer drugs are usually tested on the very sick whereas a phase I study of a new drug for insomnia will be tested on healthy adults). Phase II tests the drug in a larger number of sick people and usually looks at safety and efficacy. Phase III expands the study into larger samples of patients prior to a request for approval to market the drug and Phase IV collects data on safety post-marketing. In many ways, clinical trials are intermixed with clinical care (which can create problems related to conflict of interest). These clinical trials can be done at academic medical centers or in other clinical settings where patients who fit the inclusion criteria might be found. They are usually out-patient but can be done in hospitalized patients, too, depending on the drug. There are comparable studies of new devices such as implantable defibrilators.

Some clinical research uses human subjects to better understand physiology, health behaviors, and so forth. Subjects might be recruited to provide biological specimens, answer questionnaires, or perform tasks. These studies may not hold out a benefit to the participants but may help physicians understand more about how, for example, macrophages work in a particular circumstance.

I will add that most clinical research is done by people who make their living caring for patients. Research with human subjects happens some of the time often in the context of the clinical encounter. There is an enormous amount of paperwork that goes along with these research studies and many investigators hire non-clinicians to help with that work. Keep in mind that the contracts to do the work often go to the medical school, not the medical center, so if you want to be hired as a helper, you should look to the human resources dept of the medical school to be hired.
 

nolookpass

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Does it matter if we do clinical or bench research? I think I would prefer to try out some clinical research, since I did bench research for a while in high school. Is it frowned upon? Or looked at as a better option to bench research.
 

juliedi

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Does it matter if we do clinical or bench research? I think I would prefer to try out some clinical research, since I did bench research for a while in high school. Is it frowned upon? Or looked at as a better option to bench research.

I think the general consensus is that any kind of research (bench, clinical, non-medicine related) is fine.
 

vc7777

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Clinical research is a very nebulous term that you could say includes any kind of research that involves patients, patient data, or tissue samples.

This could be activities such as medical device and drug approvals (as mentioned above). It also includes research to improve or review current practice. Sometimes, novel clinical research can be done using existing databases and tissue banks but answer new and unusual questions.
 

LizzyM

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As a career, clinical research might make sense but it doesn't make sense for pre-med college students. Most adcoms think of research as an opporunity to be involved in the scientific method: developing and testing a hypothesis and reporting the results, refining the study question and developing a new hypothesis, rinse and repeat.

Clinical trials and other clinical research is often designed by committee (or a pharmaceutical company) and the clinicians on the front line are often not involved in the development of the study design, the hypothesis generation, data analysis, etc.

I don't always agree with that mindset that clinical research doesn't count as research for the purposes of med admissions but I hear that frequently.
 

courtnes

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I've worked in 3 clinical research positions, and it's safe to say that the field is highly variable. In college, I did work study where I did data entry for investigator-designed clinical trials. Post-college, I was a study coordinator completing clinical trial study visits (great clinical experience, got to take histories, do vitals, learn some of the physical and neurological exam from the study physicians, learn how to use and monitor some cutting edge medical devices) and working with a medical database resulting in numerous investigator-initiated retrospective research projects where I was involved in the scientific process from the ground up. Now I'm again working in research, and my job is half working on a long-term clinical research trial, this time in the OR with patient contact during the consent process, and the other half working on multiple retrospective research studies plus additional clinical studies.

OP, what I'm saying is that there are clinical research positions out there that will give you "real" research experience. You might have to shop around to find one that fits your interests, but chances are there will be something out there that you'll find interesting and that will help your research skills/give you some relevant clinical knowledge. There are other benefits to working in CR, such as learning how to do IRB submissions which will be useful if you think you have any interest in doing research as a physician, developing your organizational skills (I had to organize schedules for multiple study visits and surgeries for ~15 patients with 10 doctors, not counting extra bloodwork, neuropsych testing, etc), and working as part of a professional team.
 
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