What is a Clinical Trial?

In general, clinical trials (also called research studies or clinical studies) are designed to add to the medical knowledge related to the prevention, diagnosis or treatment of a certain disease or condition. 

Common reasons for conducting clinical trials include: 

  • Evaluating the safety and efficacy of one or more interventions (such as medications or medical devices) for treating a disease, syndrome or condition. 
  • Finding ways to prevent the initial development or recurrence of a disease or condition; through means such as medicines, vaccines, or lifestyle changes.
  • Examining methods of identifying (or diagnosing) a condition or the risk factors for that condition.

Every clinical trial is led by a principal investigator who is most often a medical doctor (MD). Clinical trials also have a research team that may include doctors, nurses, clinical research coordinators, social workers and other health care professionals. Clinical trials can be sponsored or funded by pharmaceutical companies, academic medical centers, voluntary groups, health care providers or other organizations.

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