Health & Medicine

You can help shape the future of health care by participating in research

Dr. Philip A. Kern
Dr. Philip A. Kern

Health research leads to discoveries that improve our lives and well being. Did you know that you can help by getting involved?

Everything we do in health care, from the medications we take to the tests that diagnose diseases, resulted from research with diverse groups of human volunteers. Health research is strictly controlled to protect people and won’t make you a “guinea pig,” and it’s not just for instances of incurable illness.

Doctors and researchers are working hard to identify new treatments and strategies to improve health and understand diseases, but in order to succeed they need both healthy research participants and participants with medical conditions. Studies are often ended because they don't have enough participants, leaving important health questions unanswered.

Participating in research is a way for you to make a difference in improving health care, and to learn more about your own health, too.

Why is research important?

Every medical test you've ever had, every treatment you've received, and every medication you've taken — even seemingly routine things like an X-ray, an appendectomy, or cholesterol drug — was first researched to ensure that it's safe and effective. Through research, we can continue to improve health and health care.

What's involved in participating?

Health research varies from study to study, ranging from simple questionnaires and screenings to clinical trials of investigational drugs and devices. Each study follows a carefully controlled plan that is fully explained to you so you can decide if you want to participate.

How am I protected?

The ethics and laws that govern medical practice also apply to research, which is federally regulated with strict safeguards to protect participants. The choice to participate is always yours and you can leave a study at any time. Your name and all information about you will remain confidential.

How will I benefit?

Participating in research can allow you to learn more about your own health and possibly access investigational treatments or devices before they are widely available. While participating in research, you also receive expert medical care. Some studies compensate you for participation. And, you're helping others by contributing to research and discoveries for health.

How can I learn more and get involved?

You can visit for more information, including two ways to get involved:

1. Current studies at UK: Review a list of local studies across a broad range of health topics, from asthma to cancer to neurology and more. You can submit your contact information to learn more about specific studies that interest you.

2. Join ResearchMatch: This free, secure, national registry allows you to connect with studies across the country. Registration is quick and simple. You can wait to be matched with studies that interest you, or you can search for specific studies.

Dr. Philip A. Kern is the director of the UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health to accelerate discoveries for human health.