The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) is participating in a national effort to increase participation in health research. ResearchMatch, the creation of which was announced today by the National Institutes of Health, is an online registry that will help connect researchers and individuals interested in volunteering for clinical studies.
“One of the most significant and persistent challenges to improving health is low participation in medical research, especially persons from racial and ethnic groups who have been under-represented in our research studies.” said Thomas Pearson, M.D., M.P.H, Ph.D., director of the URMC Clinical and Translational Science Institute. “For researchers, the obstacle is not being able to identify enough volunteers for their studies. For individuals who want to volunteer for medical research, the obstacle is often not knowing where to start. This new initiative will help potential volunteers and researchers ‘find’ each other.”
ResearchMatch is a secure electronic database that brings together researchers and potential volunteers in a manner that protects individual privacy and empowers volunteers to choose which studies to learn more about. The site functions in a manner similar to online dating services which matches individuals based on certain criteria but then leaves it to them whether or not act upon the information.
Individuals create a “profile” on the site which includes their contact, basic demographic information, and any health information they choose to share. Researchers can query the site and search for potential volunteers based on the criteria of their study. An individual’s identity and contact information is hidden from researchers who can only select an individual based on details the volunteer chooses to provide.
Once identified as a potential volunteer by a researcher the site contacts the individual to let them know about the opportunity. The volunteer then determines whether or not to allow the site to share their identity and contact information with the researcher so they can learn more about the study. More information about the registry and how it works is available at www.researchmatch.org.
The ResearchMatch site is supported by a consortium of more than 39 institutions that are a part of the Clinical and Translational Science Award program created by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The website is funded by the NIH and is hosted by Vanderbilt University.