Cancer Clinical Trials Sponsors

Who sponsors clinical trials?

Clinical trials are sponsored by organizations or individuals who are seeking better treatments for cancer or better ways to prevent or detect cancer. Individual physicians at cancer centers and other medical institutions can sponsor clinical trials themselves.

The National Cancer Institute

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) sponsors a large number of clinical trials. The NCI has a number of programs designed to make clinical trials widely available in the United States. Thousands of investigators at over a thousand sites participate in various aspects of NCI's clinical trials programs. These include the following:

Cancer Centers Program:

About 60 research-oriented institutions have been designated as an NCI Comprehensive or Clinical Cancer Center for their scientific excellence. The centers are key partners in the NCI's efforts to bring the benefits of clinical research directly to you. Located throughout the country, they play an important role in cancer research, delivery of the highest quality cancer care, and outreach and education for the public and professionals. You can find information about the Cancer Centers and links to their Web sites in our guide, Searching for Clinical Trials Through NCI Cancer Centers' Web Sites.

Cooperative Clinical Trials Program:

This program brings together groups of researchers, cancer centers, and community physicians into a national NCI-supported network. The network consists of a number of Cooperative Groups that seek to define the key unanswered questions in cancer and then conduct high-quality clinical trials at many sites around the country to answer these questions. The Cooperative Groups enroll about 20,000 new patients in treatment trials each year. Important III trials run by the Cooperative Groups help establish the state-of-the-art for cancer therapy. Additionally, the Groups perform large cancer prevention trials.

The Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP):

This program makes clinical trials available in a large number of local communities in the United States by linking community physicians with researchers in cancer centers. Local hospitals throughout the country affiliate with a cancer center or a cooperative group. This enables doctors to offer people participation in clinical trials more easily, without having to travel long distances or leave their usual caregivers. Several of these programs focus on encouraging minority populations to participate in trials.

Drug Companies/Companies Making Diagnostic Equipment:

Drug companies or companies that make diagnostic equipment (like X-ray machines) sponsor trials of their products, hoping to demonstrate that their products are safe and effective. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will only permit companies to sell a product after it has been proven safe and effective in clinical trials.