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Grant allows OSU researchers to use volunteer recruitment registry

The Ohio State Center for Clinical and Translational Science has been chosen to participate in the first national volunteer recruitment registry, ResearchMatch.org.

Those who would like to participate in a research study can go to ResearchMatch.org and enter their information. Researchers can then search through the participants to find people who match the criteria for their studies. There is no cost to register.

Not just any researcher can go through Research Match to pick participants, though. OSU is able to participate because it was awarded the NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award. With the award came a $34.1 million grant, and this money allowed OSU to establish the CCTS and become involved in Research Match.

Researchers at OSU who wish to use Research Match to find participants for their studies must go through the CCTS. They fill out a research request form on the Research Match Web site, which gets forwarded to Rose Hallarn, OSU’s institutional liaison for Research Match and the CCTS’s recruitment program director.

Once Hallarn goes over the studies and makes sure the researchers have permission from the Institutional Review Board, the researchers are asked to sign terms of agreement. Then, their studies are included on the registry.

Hallarn believes OSU’s participation in Research Match will benefit both researchers and the rest of the community.

“Study volunteers make a profound gift to science by working collaboratively with researchers to improve public health, and many of us have been helped by the results of a research study,” Hallarn said in a press release. “Through our participation, we are connecting potential study volunteers with researchers to make a difference in the future of medicine.”

In order to sign up as a volunteer, participants can go to ResearchMatch.org and register themselves as a volunteer. Those concerned about protecting the privacy of their personal information need not worry, Hallarn said.

When the researchers scan through the database of volunteers, they can only see information that affects the criteria of their study, such as age, ethnicity or medications.

If researchers see participants who would match their study, they send volunteers a message through Research Match. Volunteers who wish to participate in the study then give the researchers permission to view contact information.

Although researchers can go through Research Match to pick volunteers, it doesn’t work the other way around. Those wishing to participate cannot go on Research Match and search through studies to pick the ones they want. Volunteers simply register, and it is up to the researcher to find them.

However, the CCTS is currently working on establishing a directory of all the ongoing studies at OSU. It now has a section on its Web site that gives information about how to find OSU research studies, but there is not a complete list of all experiments.

Some volunteers may receive compensation for participating in the research studies. If a study involves medication, the participant will usually receive that medication for free. If the study involves traveling, the participant might receive a stipend to cover travel expenses, Hallarn said in a phone interview. Also, most studies that take place at OSU will compensate the volunteer for parking.

However, not every experiment or research study will offer compensation for its participants.

Because Research Match is new, researchers won’t contact volunteers right away. A large number of volunteers will have to sign up to start to fill the registry, and once Research Match receives enough volunteers, researchers can then go through the database to find participants for their studies. Hallarn estimates it will take about three months for the registry to attain enough participants.

People of all ages are welcome to sign up, but Research Match encourages those under 19 to have a parent or legal guardian register for them. It is not necessary to have a health condition to sign up.

The $34.1 million grant is given to the CCTS over a period of five years, from June of 2008 to April of 2013. Once the funding ends, the CCTS will compete to renew the grant so they can continue to participate in Research Match, Hallarn said.

To learn more about how OSU is involved in Research Match, visit ccts.osu.edu or researchmatch.org.  

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