Did you know that many children’s hospitals conduct clinical trials to investigate treatments and cures for diseases? Researchers involved in these studies investigate new drugs, vaccines, devices or procedures, and your child can help by being a healthy volunteer in a clinical trial.

What is a clinical trial?

​Clinical trials are research studies that help us learn more about ways to prevent, detect or treat diseases. They can also help people with chronic illnesses find better ways to live with their illness. Clinical trials are the primary way that researchers find out if a new treatment, like a new drug or medical device, is safe and effective in people.

What is a healthy volunteer in a clinical trial?

A healthy volunteer is just what it sounds like — it’s a volunteer that does not suffer from the disease or illness that is being studied in the clinical trial.

In some studies, doctors and researchers need to compare healthy volunteers with people who have a specific disease or condition. These healthy volunteers are matched to patients with similar characteristics such as age, gender or family relationship. Both the healthy volunteer and the patient are then given the same test, procedure or drug. Investigators can then learn more about what they’re studying by comparing data from the healthy volunteer and the patient.

Why are children needed in clinical trials?

Clinical trials need children to participate to help determine if a treatment is safe, helpful and well tolerated by children. It’s important to study treatments in children because kids’ bodies are different from adult bodies — they have different treatment needs and sometimes even different diseases than adults. Because children are growing, their doses of medicine, sizes of devices and types of therapy may change over time as they grow.

How can my child become a healthy volunteer in a clinical trial?

Children’s National Hospital has a program called Healthy Heroes that offers parents the chance to learn more about how to have their healthy children take part in current research studies.

Who can join the Healthy Heroes?

Any parent with a child who is younger than 18 years old can sign up for Healthy Heroes.

What happens if I decide to join Healthy Heroes?

If you decide to join Healthy Heroes, you will be asked your contact information and questions about your child’s health. Your child will receive a Children’s National Hospital t-shirt for joining Healthy Heroes.

If your child qualifies for a research study, we will contact you to see if you are interested in learning more about the research study. If so, we will give your contact information to the research study staff. The staff will contact you to explain the study to you, answer your questions, and ask if you are interested in having your child take part in the study.

Researchers do not expect any risks from your participation in this study. Only the people working on the study will have access to your and your child’s information.

What if I join Healthy Heroes, but then change my mind and want to stop participating?

You can stop participating in Healthy Heroes at any time after you join. If you choose to stop participating, then your and your child’s information will be removed from the Healthy Heroes’ list. Your decision to stop participating in Healthy Heroes will not affect your child’s current or future care at Children’s National.

What if I have questions about Healthy Heroes?

If you have any questions about the research study, please contact Jasmine Jaber at 202-476-2838 or email us.

If you are interested in joining Healthy Heroes, please fill out the interest form.

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