The Gift of Volunteering for Research

It is the season of giving. Often, we make time during the holidays to give blood to those who need it or to give toys to children who are without. But Dr. Alan Pieris has another idea, a gift that could help generations.

Dr. Pieris is director of the Texas Tech Clinical Research Institute. He says there are dozens of studies ongoing right now with success or at least progress coming from many of them.

But the research teams need more people. For example, Dr. Pieris says, "We have a number of studies going on in prostate cancer so we're looking for people with a high PSA, which is a mark-up for prostate cancer."

But, Dr. Pieris adds they are looking for healthy people too. He says volunteers can feel assured that all the studies are approved by the IRB. He explains, "Human studies are very carefully regulated. So they have to be approved by the Institutional Review Board. We'll call that IRB. And their primary interest is to make sure that people volunteering are safe."

Dr. Pieris says the biggest benefit is the good feeling that comes from helping your fellow man or woman.

He says, "We need some help in terms of solving some pretty serious illnesses like Lou Gehrig's disease where there is no known cure. So to find a cure we need both normal volunteers and maybe the early stages of a varieties of diseases so we can test new therapies."

Research is a lengthy process. He says it may take a decade for a discovery to move to practical use, but that's still progress.

So what does it mean to offer yourself for human research? Dr. Pieris says, "It may be a sample of blood or something like that you'd give and then you'd be done. You get a chance to choose what kind of study you want to be a part of."

If you don't want to volunteer for patient studies, there are other opportunities for volunteers, especially those with a background in math or statistics.

If you would like to learn more about a special gift that could last for more than a lifetime, go to the TTU Clinical Research Institute at

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