About Clinical Research at PAMFRI
The clinical research group bridges medical research and patient care, with Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) physicians conducting trials of new therapies and devices. Experienced research nurses and clinical research coordinators guide studies through a required safety approval by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) - an ethics committee that protects the rights of human subjects participating in research; recruit patients to participate; monitor patients throughout the study; and ensure compliance with privacy regulations and other rules.
This coordination, together with PAMF's large base of patients and physicians, attracts pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and other collaborators. Patients derive the primary benefit from clinical trials, gaining early access to new treatments. Physicians become more analytical and creative in the research process.
Clinical research has been conducted at PAMF from the Research Institute's inception in 1950. This has allowed patients to benefit from early advances in treatment for chronic illnesses.
Trials managed by the clinical research group are usually proposed by a PAMF physician or an outside organization. The trials test an experimental medication or medical device, find new uses for old therapies, or analyze innovative strategies for doctor-patient interaction.
A study proposal must receive approval from the Sutter Health Institutional Review Board (SHIRB) - a committee that ensures all research proposals meet federal and state standards, protect the rights and safety of human subjects, and meet PAMF's own quality criteria.
If approved, the study is assigned an experienced research nurse or coordinator from the clinical research group. Working with the lead physician investigator, the nurse or coordinator identifies and contacts patients who may be willing to participate and obtains informed consent. Obtaining informed consent involves the ongoing engagement of investigators, the research team, and the research participant. Research participants are provided adequate time to have their concerns and questions addressed to their satisfaction. Participants' decisions do not affect their ability to receive medical care, and they do not lose any benefits to which they otherwise may be entitled.
During the Study
Trials may run weeks, months, or years. Throughout a clinical study, research nurses or coordinators stay closely involved with participants, providing treatments, monitoring progress, and ensuring that patients' rights and privacy remain protected.
Benefits to Patients and Physicians
Physicians report that participating in clinical trials is intellectually challenging and professionally rewarding. Many believe that the research process makes physicians better patient caregivers. By working in both clinical care and research, physicians become knowledgeable of new treatments and think more creatively.
Patients who understand the significance of clinical studies and join clinical trials receive access to new treatments and dedicated attention from physicians, research nurses and coordinators. Many participants are also motivated to help future patients, as many studies may not influence treatment for years.
Learn About Study Opportunities
If you are a sponsor looking for a site to conduct clinical research with new medications and devices, you may learn more about our services by reading our Sponsors in Clinical Research webpage.
If you are a patient and would like to learn more about participating in a clinical research study, please read our Patients and Consumers in Clinical Research webpage.