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What Is Clinical Research?

Many people think of clinical trials when they hear the term “clinical research,” but in fact trials are only one aspect of what the term means. Clinical research describes many different elements of scientific investigation. Simply put, it involves human subjects and helps translate basic research (done in labs) into new treatments and information to benefit patients. In addition to clinical trials, some research in epidemiology, physiology and pathophysiology, health services, education, outcomes and mental health can all fall under the clinical research umbrella.

Clinical Research and Diabetes

There is still a lot that researchers do not know about type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Much research begins in animal models such as worms, zebra fish and mice, but clinical research is necessary in order to determine how much of this research also applies to humans. It advances the basic research from the lab bench to the bedside, in order to benefit people living with or at risk for diabetes. Clinical research is desirable for study participants because through participation they can benefit from the newest, most cutting-edge diabetes approaches and products.

Clinical Research Helps Explain:

  • How and why diabetes develops;
  • Genetic and environmental factors that may play a role;
  • The success of education programs and health services programs to improve diabetes care and self management;
  • Possible avenues to prevent diabetes;
  • What new products and medications are most beneficial; 
  • How to prevent or reverse diabetes complications.

Joslin Researchers Are Searching for Answers

Why does diabetes run in families? What factors cause some people to develop diabetes while others do not?
What physical differences exist between people with diabetes and those without?

  • How do diabetes complications develop and how effective are attempts to prevent them through medication, education or health services?
  • How can patients achieve better long-term diabetes management success through new education programs?
  • Does brain chemistry change when someone develops diabetes? Do these changes result in mood disorders or make self-management more difficult?

Most Commonly Used Terms

 Epidemiology: the study of disease patterns in human populations

Health services: services performed by health care professionals or by others under their direction for the purpose of promoting, maintaining, or restoring health

Outcomes: results, impacts or consequences

Pathophysiology: changes that occur within an organ or tissue due to disease

Physiology: the study of the physical and chemical processes involved in the functioning of the human body

Page last updated: October 28, 2016