CONTACT: SUSAN GREEN
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
Release: April 29, 1999
UI clinical trials link patients, research and industry
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Would you be willing to adhere to a
strict diet for five years? Or sit in a park breathing pollens and molds when
you know you suffer from allergies? How about having your lungs examined using
bronchoscopy, or having blood drawn on a regular basis?
Every year hundreds of Iowans volunteer to help evaluate
experimental treatments in hopes of either improving their own health or contributing
to medical science, or both. They might try new medications, alter their lifestyles
and diets, or undergo treatments with new medical devices. It's all part of
participating in clinical trials at the University of Iowa.
Clinical trials are important to the university for a
number of reasons, not the least of which are recognition for the UI and its
faculty members, educational opportunities for students involved in the research,
But according to Charlotte Talman, director of the recently
formed UI Clinical Trials Office, a particularly significant role that clinical
trials fill is providing new treatments to patients who need them.
"The most important thing that clinical trials do is bring
new devices and medications to patients -- the latest, newest, most recently
developed things that are not available anywhere else," Talman said. "That's
the reason for clinical trials -- to bring better care to patients and the
people of Iowa."
Judy Hupfield of Iowa City experienced that kind of care
when she participated in a UI breast cancer prevention trial studying the
effects of the drug tamoxifen.
"I think the psychological effect on me was really wonderful,"
she said. "It took all the anxiety about that disease out of my life because
I was so well cared for while I was in the trial. It was basically for selfish
reasons that I got involved but I'm glad for the positive results and hope
that more women get involved in studies and really take an active role in
taking care of themselves."
The UI attracts between 180 and 200 new corporate-funded
studies a year. Most are for pharmaceutical companies or manufacturers of
medical devices. Conducting clinical trials is an important way to build partnerships
with these companies, who need to get their products approved for use.
"There is more pressure
on industry to get studies up and going, get them conducted quickly and
get the results," Talman said. "There's also a lot of competition for their
funds, from doctors' offices, smaller hospitals and some places that are set
up just to do clinical trials. Having this office is one way to be more responsive
to what industry wants."
Handling the details for these corporate-funded studies
is Talman's responsibility. The office, a unit of Research Services which
is part of the Office of the Vice President for Research, was formed in July
1998 to facilitate communication between industry, sponsors and faculty researchers
involved in clinical research projects. It serves all colleges at the UI.
The office is made up of Talman and her secretary, Cindy
Tisor, and it is often the first contact a company has with the university.
Talman fields inquiries and refers the information to the appropriate UI faculty.
"It's a matter of matching up the right investigator with
the right company," Talman said.
Once that match is made, Talman reviews the written contract
for the trial and suggests changes to the company in order to ensure the contract
complies with UI standards, Iowa law and the researcher's rights concerning
the study. She helps researchers set up accounts for the grant funds and presents
orientation sessions for research teams on how to set up a clinical trial.
"Charlotte is like a guardian angel," said Mary Spaight,
an oncology nurse and assistant nurse manager at the John and Mary Pappajohn
Clinical Cancer Center at the UI Hospitals and Clinics. "She keeps tabs on
everything. With drug studies or company studies, she's very protective of
the UI investigators and nurses. She's been a tremendous asset."