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Who Conducts Clinical Trials

Who Conducts Clinical Trials

During the early years of cancer research, clinical studies were supported almost entirely through funds provided by the federal government. Today, cancer clinical trials are conducted by a variety of groups from small Phase 0-II trials conducted at individual academic sites, to large trials conducted at cancer centers, community practices, government agencies or by industry.


Federal Agencies

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) conducts the majority of government-funded clinical trials. The NCI has an extensive clinical trial system that conducts internal trials as well as sponsoring trials through grants and contracts done by other institutions.

Although most government-sponsored cancer clinical trials are conducted through the NCI, several other agencies conduct or sponsor cancer-related clinical research. These include the Department of Defense, and the Department of Veteran's Affairs.


Clinical Trial Networks

The NCI also funds and supports a large program of clinical trial networks that conduct later Phase III trials. These groups maintain an established mechanism for such studies using teams of researchers, biostatisticians, and research support staff.

These regional and national groups are comprised of large networks of institutions and investigators located at academic hospitals, community hospitals, and medical practices. These groups voluntarily collaborate to conduct cancer research.

About half the cancer patients that participate in cancer clinical trials in any given year are part of cooperative group studies.


Cancer Centers

Sixty institutions have been designated as Comprehensive or Clinical Cancer Centers by the NCI. These centers conduct several hundred cancer clinical trials in any given year.

The unmodified term cancer center refers to a cancer center having a scientific agenda that is primarily focused on laboratory, population science, or clinical research, or some combination of these three components.

A Comprehensive Cancer Center has demonstrated reasonable depth and breadth of research activities in each of the three major areas listed above: (laboratory, clinical, and population-based research), with substantial transdisciplinary studies bridging these areas.

An NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center must also demonstrate professional and public education functions that disseminate clinical and public health advances into the community it serves.

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Pharmaceutical Industry

More than 100 pharmaceutical companies conduct cancer clinical trials, many involving early-phase research. These trials may be conducted independently or in collaboration with academia and/or a cooperative group. The company, whose drug is being tested, may fund trials that are conducted by academia and/or a cooperative group.




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