Institute of Clinical Research

Through clinical studies, which involve people who volunteer to participate in them, researchers can better understand how to diagnose, treat and prevent diseases or conditions.

Types of clinical studies

  • Observational study. A type of study in which people are observed or certain outcomes are measured. No attempt is made by the researcher to affect the outcome — for example, no treatment is given by the researcher.
  • Clinical trial (interventional study). During clinical trials, researchers learn if a new test or treatment works and is safe. Treatments studied in clinical trials might be new drugs or new combinations of drugs, new surgical procedures or devices, or new ways to use existing treatments. Find out more about the five phases of non-cancer clinical trials on ClinicalTrials.gov or the National Cancer Institute phases of cancer trials.
  • Medical records research. Medical records research involves the use of information collected from medical records. By studying the medical records of large groups of people over long periods of time, researchers can see how diseases progress and which treatments and surgeries work best.

Clinical studies differ from medical care

When you visit your doctor, he or she diagnoses and treats your current illness or condition. During clinical studies, researchers are trying to gather new knowledge that will help them improve medical care for people in the future.