For Patients

Welcome to the Clinical Trials Office Web site at Columbia University Medical Center!

As you consider treatment options for yourself or a loved one, you may be considering participation in a clinical trial. But what is a clinical trial? Why do people participate in these studies? The information and links below will provide you with more information about clinical trials: what they are, how they work, and other resources that may be available to you.

What is a clinical trial?

A clinical trial is a study designed to answer a specific question about the safety or efficacy of a drug, a device, or other interventions. These studies provide opportunities for patients to volunteer for cutting-edge treatments, which allow doctors to examine the benefits and risks of using these drugs. Clinical trials are designed to find out if a drug works and is safe for people to take.

Why participate in a clinical trial?

People choose to participate in clinical trials for reasons as individual as they are. Clinical trials can either enhance treatment, or be a treatment option. Some people seek clinical trials when other treatment options have not been successful. Here are just a few of the many reasons people choose to participate in these studies:

Many, if not all, treatment drugs and tests are free to study participants
Successful clinical trials may improve the length and quality of life for study participants
Clinical trials provide an opportunity to take positive action by contributing to the understanding of a disease or condition and by furthering treatment options available to others
Patients in successful clinical trials are the first to benefit from these cutting-edge treatments

To search for clinical trials at Columbia University Medical Center, please go to