A clinical study involves research using human volunteers (also called participants) that is intended to add to medical knowledge. There are two main types of clinical studies: clinical trials (also called interventional studies) and observational studies.
In a clinical trial, participants receive specific interventions according to the research plan or protocol created by the investigators. These interventions may be medical products, such as drugs or devices; procedures; or changes to participants' behavior, such as diet. Clinical trials may compare a new medical approach to a standard one that is already available, to a placebo that contains no active ingredients, or to no intervention. Some clinical trials compare interventions that are already available to each other. When a new product or approach is being studied, it is not usually known whether it will be helpful, harmful, or no different than available alternatives (including no intervention). The investigators try to determine the safety and efficacy of the intervention by measuring certain outcomes in the participants. For example, investigators may give a drug or treatment to participants who have high blood pressure to see whether their blood pressure decreases.
In an observational study, investigators assess health outcomes in groups of participants according to a research plan or protocol. Participants may receive interventions (which can include medical products such as drugs or devices) or procedures as part of their routine medical care, but participants are not assigned to specific interventions by the investigator (as in a clinical trial). For example, investigators may observe a group of older adults to learn more about the effects of different lifestyles on cardiac health.
Every clinical study is led by a principal investigator, who is often a medical doctor. Clinical studies also have a research team that may include doctors, nurses, social workers, and other health care professionals.
Clinical studies can be sponsored, or funded, by academic medical centers, pharmaceutical companies, voluntary groups, and other organizations, in addition to federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Doctors, other health care providers, and other individuals can also sponsor clinical research.
Current clinical studies at UCSF Psychiatry
The following studies with the UCSF Department of Psychiatry are currently looking for volunteers and participants. To find out details and requirements for participation in a particular trial, click on the title for more information.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- CM-AT for the Treatment of Autism in Children With All Levels of Fecal Chymotrypsin
- Genes Related to Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative’s Depression Project (ADNI-D)
- Cellular Aging and Neurobiology of Depression Study (CAN-D)
- Treatment Study/Psychotherapy Response Study Using Multimodal MRI (PRSUMM)