Clinical Trials

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Who sponsors clinical trials?

Government agencies, such as the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and other divisions of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Defense, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, sponsor and conduct clinical trials. In addition, organizations or individuals, such as physicians, medical institutions, foundations, volunteer groups, and pharmaceutical companies, also sponsor clinical trials.

NCI sponsors a large number of clinical trials and has a number of programs designed to make clinical trials widely available in the United States. These programs include the following:

  • The Cancer Centers Program provides support to research-oriented institutions, including those that have been designated as NCI Comprehensive or Clinical Cancer Centers for their scientific excellence. More information is available in the NCI fact sheet The National Cancer Institute Cancer Centers Program, which is available at http://www.cancer.gov/research/nci-role/cancer-centers.
  • The Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPOREs) bring together scientists and researchers to design and implement research programs that can improve prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment of specific types of cancer. More information about SPOREs is available at Translational Research Program (TRP).
  • The NCI Clinical Trials Network (NCTN) brings researchers, cancer centers, and doctors together into cooperative groups. These groups work with the NCI to identify important questions in cancer research, and design and conduct multisite clinical trials to answer these questions. NCTN research bases are located throughout the United States and in Canada and Europe. For more information, refer to the fact sheet NCI’s Clinical Trials Cooperative Group Program at http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/NCI/clinical-trials-cooperative-group.
  • The Cancer Trials Support Unit (CTSU) makes NCI-sponsored treatment trials available to doctors and patients in the United States and Canada who are affiliated with the NCTN groups.  CTSU members can enroll patients in clinical trials through the program’s Web site, which is located at http://www.ctsu.org/. General information about the CTSU is also available on the program’s Web site, or by calling 1–888–823–5923.
  • The overall goal of the NCI Community Research Program (NCORP) is to bring cancer clinical trials (cancer control, symptom control, prevention, screening, treatment and imaging), as well as cancer care delivery research to individuals in their own communities, thus generating a broadly applicable evidence-base that contributes to improved patient outcomes and a reduction in cancer disparities.  Research in the community setting allows access to a larger and more diverse patient population in a variety of “real world” healthcare locations. This can accelerate accrual to clinical trials, enable feasibility testing of promising new interventions, and increase the generalizability of study findings. Engaging community oncologists in collaborative research can also facilitate the uptake of effective, evidence-based practices into routine care. Additional information about the NCORP is available at Cancer.gov.
  • The National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, a research hospital located in Bethesda, Maryland, is part of the NIH. Trials at the Clinical Center are conducted by the components of the NIH, including the NCI. The NCI fact sheet Cancer Clinical Trials at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center: Questions and Answers has more information about the Clinical Center. This fact sheet is available at http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/NCI/clinical-center