Spiking Clinical Trials Awareness in our City


May 28, 2019

Why is it mission critical to an academic health center to support a robust clinical research program?

That’s a valid question to ask given it is identified as a research goal in the 2018-2020 Strategic Plan. So, here’s the reason we invest resources. Texas is ranked third nationally in the number of clinical studies registered in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) ClinicalTrial.Gov website. At UT Health San Antonio, we currently have 229 active studies lead by our talented researchers and clinician-scientists who devote their careers to innovations that can prevent, treat or cure diseases such as diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s and many other health issues.

However, the problem we face nationally is that very few participate in clinical studies, and active studies need volunteers willing to give their time. Nearly 86% of studies do not meet their recruitment deadline and almost 20% close early due to lack of volunteer participation.

This is the problem PopUpStar is addressing. So, what is PopUpStar? In a nutshell, it’s a global competition being spearheaded by Greater Gift and the Association of Clinical Research Professionals. The research partnerships team in the Office of the Vice President for Research submitted an application and learned, in March, it was one of 12 teams selected to receive $5,000 in seed funding to underwrite expenses for a clinical trials awareness event. Each team has been challenged to create an innovative event in their city to educate the community on the importance of clinical studies, the safeguards in place protecting voluteers, and resources available to learn about the process, registries and studies open for enrollment.

To tackle the challenge, we decided to create a interdisciplinary team taking the name “YOUnite Research” to better market the institution’s volunteer registry platform “Find-A-Study”. Partnering with the San Antonio RoadRunners, our PopUpStar event will be held on July 13, 2019, at the Lincoln Heights Shopping Center, the venue for the 40th Annual Women’s 5K/10K & Girls Fun Run. With over 600 women and girls expected to register for the race, along with Saturday morning grocery shoppers and family members supporting the runners/walkers, the YOUnite Research team will have the opportunity to educate our community and share the call-to-action message to join Find-A-Study. Team members will explain how Find-A-Study provides access to active clinical studies for potential volunteers diagnosed with medical conditions as well as healthy volunteers. Laptops and iPads will be available for those who wish to enroll (takes less than four minutes to complete).

Screenings and education on medical conditions disproportionately impacting the health of our metro area (such as diabetes, mental health and age-related disorders) will be provided by the Schools of Medicine and Nursing, University Health System, the Institute for the Integration of Medicine & Science, Institute for Health Promotion Research, Texas Diabetes Institute, Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases and Sam and Ann Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Institute.

“Clinical trial recruitment, a critical component of advancing translational research, continues to be a challenge nationally,” shared Joseph Schmelz, Ph.D., assistant vice president for research administration, “so we are excited our YOUnite Research team is bringing together our clinician-scientists and research staff to directly engage with potential volunteers who can also spread the word to their families and friends.”


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