Referring Your Patient for a Clinical Study

Faculty and staff of the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center are committed to advancing veterinary medicine by exploring new scientific breakthroughs through clinical research studies. These studies may involve the use of a new drug, a newly developed medical device, a new procedure, or a behavioral change, such as diet. With the potential to improve quality of life, clinical studies lead to  diagnostics and treatments that clarify  which therapeutic approaches work best for certain diseases or conditions, and have the potential to change the way we practice veterinary medicine.

Benefits of Participation
There are a number of benefits to having a client’s pet participate in a clinical study:

  • You are assured the animal will receive care from a highly specialized support team, who monitor the animal’s health very closely.
  • Some of the cost of participating in the clinical study including medications, blood tests and follow-up may be covered, easing the financial burden to  the client.
  • Your patient gains access to cutting-edge therapies that are not otherwise available, providing hope for owners, a better quality of life for the pet or even additional years to live.

Above all, many clients find a great sense of reward knowing that they are helping other animals and contributing to the advancement of veterinary medicine.

Strict Review and Protocols are in Place
Each trial is led by one principal investigator (PI), who may often be supported by several co-investigators providing the most comprehensive expertise. Currently there just over 70 clinical trials ongoing at Cummings School, all of which have a master plan called a protocol that has undergone rigorous evaluation by the School’s animal study review board known as the Clinical Science Review Board (CSRC).

After speaking to personnel with intimate knowledge of the protocol, and prior to entering their animal into a study, all clients must sign informed consent statements.  This informed consent includes details about the treatments and tests their animal will receive and a summary of the benefits and risks.

Most often the clients will return to the Foster Hospital for follow-up care, although some clinical studies are so simple that they may only involve sampling at a single point in time.  Since many therapies represent new treatment approaches, it is important that the animals adhere to strict protocol guidelines to minimize the possibility of side effects.  Any new treatments may have side effects, some which may be anticipated or others that are not expected.