A Publication of WTVP

Participating in a clinical research study can be rewarding for many reasons: participants are involved in break-through medical research, they help others with the disease, and they help themselves. Byron Svendsen got involved so he could help others with diabetes.

Svendsen, a diabetic as well as a relative and friend to other diabetics, feels something new needs to be offered to combat the disease. Although he isn’t on insulin or battling severe symptoms, he knows others who have. Sixty-eight-year-old Svendsen has seen diabetes take its toll on a friend, who lost both his legs. He said, “I just want to help others so they don’t have to go through something like that, and it helps me, too.”

According the American Diabetes Association, there are 20.8 million children and adults in the United States—7 percent of the population—who have diabetes. This represents an overwhelming need to research diabetes management. As the director of the OSF Medical Group’s Clinical Research Center, I’m able to assure patients that all study protocols are approved by the University of Illinois Institutional Review Board (IRB) and comply with OSF’s ethical and religious directives. And this is also true for other institutions in our community area.

Over 600 research projects currently are being tracked in the Peoria area by the community IRB. The IRB monitors all research studies that involve human volunteers and reviews all research conducted by local hospitals. The community IRB, which was founded in 1994, consists of 20 people who review research protocols before any patients can be invited to participate. The board consists of private citizens, hospital representatives, lawmakers, and even a philosopher. This diverse group works together on behalf of research study participants.

The IRB follows federal rules and guidelines as well as a subset of regulations for the FDA, and it has the authority to deny a research project or make any changes. According to Dr. Frank Gold, associate dean for Organizational Ethics and Regulatory Compliance at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria and director of the office of Human Research Oversight, “The whole process of medical research depends on the trust of the public in investigators and the researchers. Our purpose is to help preserve that trust.”

By volunteering in a clinical research study, participants not only help advance health care and help others in the future, but they also may find their management of the disease also improves. For Svendsen, participating in the study improved the way he managed his diabetes because he was required to record his blood sugar levels twice a day, rather than his previous once-a-week regimen. “My blood sugar varied much more than I was aware of, and this was important information for my health.”

Not only do participants feel good about helping others, but most research centers also offer study-related drugs, treatments, physician visits, labs, and tests at no charge. They may also be qualified to receive compensation for time and travel. These volunteers are very important. By allowing us to learn from them, we can gain information which may be of benefit to others in the future. To learn more about the OSF Medical Group – Clinical Research Center, call (309) 683-5356. IBI