On Clinical Trial’s Day May 21, the importance of the clinical trials performed at Marshfield Clinic Research Institute is evident.

At any time, the Research Institute is performing more than 100 clinical trials across Marshfield Clinic Health System in its big and small centers alike.

Clinical trials are a part of everyday patient care here at the Health System – whether through life-saving cancer clinical trials that provide vital treatments for our patients, research on how to reduce obesity in those with the rare Bardet-Biedl Syndrome or clinical trials that work to improve the performance of vaccines we give to patients every day.

“I am proud of what we accomplish on a yearly basis through clinical trials because I know if we didn’t have the Research Institute here, many patients would be forced to drive hours for answers,” said Amit Acharya, B.D.S., Ph.D., executive director of the Research Institute. “Every day we get better at integrating research with care delivery, which is an important step in making the Health System better and delivering high quality care for our patients and our community.”

Longstanding history of research

The Research Institute has a history of both industry-sponsored and investigator initiated clinical trials for more effective disease treatment and prevention.

“Physician researchers have done amazing research ranging from early experiences with cardiovascular surgery to current efforts in rare disease research,” said Dr. Robert Haws, Clinical Research Center director. “Clinical Research offers opportunities for researchers to translate scientific knowledge into bedside care to improve the health and wellbeing of our patients.”

The newly-formed Cancer Care and Research Center is the latest example of delivering high quality clinical trials to patients where they receive care. Cancer Care and Research includes three researchers that were recognized in 2017 with a National Cancer Institute Physician Accrual Award for their ongoing enrollment in cancer clinical trials, including Dr. Adedayo Onitilo who heads Cancer Care and Research.

“As an oncologist, I became involved in clinical research to ensure that my patients would have access to state-of-the-art treatments which are only available in clinical research studies,” Dr. Onitilo said. “Participating in clinical research allows us, as clinicians and scientists, to continue to expand the body of knowledge on cancer and cancer treatments.” 

The Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Population Health also is actively engaged in vaccine clinical trials – including those for RSV and flu. For the upcoming season they are leading a study to assess the immune effects of different flu vaccines in adults.

“There is a very good chance we will be involved in industry-sponsored RSV vaccine trials like the ones we have done in the prior years ,” said Dr. Ed Belongia, Clinical Epidemiology and Population Health director.

The other benefits

While patient care is the most important advantage to participate in clinical trials, there are many other advantages that come with participating in research.

“Research benefits everyone. For the patient it brings opportunities to improve the understanding and care for their condition. For the medical center or clinic, it brings recognition and patients interested in receiving the best care possible. For the clinician researcher it ignites interests, promotes learning and enriches the fulfillment one has in their profession,” Dr. Haws said.

Dr. Haws often cites his first ever patient with Bardet-Biedl Syndrome as the reason for his interest in researching BBS. Haws noticed there wasn’t a lot of research about this rare disease, which is when he began dedicating his life to improving health care surrounding it.

While clinical trials could not be done without physicians, Dr. Haws is quick to recognize the many patients who place trust in their physicians to create these new treatments as well as the many researchers that dedicate their careers to research.


Photo: MCRI got together during Clinical Trials Day to show their support for the many clinical trials completed within Marshfield Clinic Health System.