People just like you from all walks of life and living in many places across the country participate in NIH-funded clinical trials. Some have a medical condition. Others are part of healthy control groups—people who are willing to lend a hand to ensure that science can move forward. They are helping to improve the health of future generations.
Zenovia’s uncle died of complications due to AIDS when she was a senior in college, and she wondered how many other families were going through the same loss and anguish. She began to think about ways she could make a difference for people living with HIV. In addition to pursuing a master’s degree in public health and joining the DC HIV Prevention Community Planning Group, Zenovia has participated in clinical trials to promote HIV vaccine research with the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Allison, a public affairs specialist with NIH, is enrolled in an ongoing clinical trial as a healthy volunteer. She’s paired with a patient who has asthma and is of similar gender, age, height, and weight. She goes to the NIH Clinical Center once a year for breathing tests, DEXA scans, blood draws, and chest X-rays. While Allison doesn’t have asthma, she knows how important her participation is in finding better treatment options for those with this condition.
Dewayne, a retired doctor, has a strong family history of Alzheimer’s disease. He volunteered for a study at UT Southwestern’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center, where he could contribute to research efforts and be monitored for signs of cognitive impairment. His decision to volunteer changed his life and set him on a new course to educate and reach out to those facing this disease.
On the surface, Holden looks like a typical boy. But he deals with a chronic illness, Crohn’s disease, which makes his life anything but ordinary. He is participating in a clinical trial led by UNC-Chapel Hill researchers. UNC-Chapel Hill is home to one of more than 60 institutions participating in NIH’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program. His mother says, “He feels so much better and we’re getting a different level of care. They go way beyond treating his Crohn’s disease.”
Afia once struggled to walk even a few blocks anytime she had a flare-up due to her sickle cell disease. In 2010, she arrived at the National Institutes of Health to undergo an experimental treatment. Doctors removed her bone marrow and replaced it with specially treated marrow from her brother. Today, Afia works as a lawyer and can do things she once only dreamed of, including running to stay fit. Her fatigue and pain have all but disappeared, and she offers a glimpse of what results might take place in the future for other sickle cell patients.
Photos: (from top to bottom) Zenovia Wright, Allison Fisher, Dr. Dewayne Nash, NIH Clinical Center, and NIH Clinical Center