Since 1954, the NIH Clinical Center, through the Clinical Research Volunteer Program, has provided an opportunity for healthy volunteers–local, national, and international–to participate in medical research studies (sometimes called protocols or trials). Healthy volunteers provide researchers with important information for comparison with people who have specific illnesses. Every year, nearly 3,500 healthy volunteers participate in studies at NIH.
Healthy volunteers who take part in clinical research studies at NIH may:
- Receive a thorough physical exam (in some studies)
- Receive compensation for taking part in a study
- Further medical knowledge
- Have the satisfaction of helping someone suffering from a chronic, serious, or life-threatening illness
- Provide important scientific information for developing new disease treatments
The NIH compensates study participants for their time and, in some instances, for the inconvenience of a procedure. There are standard compensation rates for the participant's time; the study's principal investigator determines inconvenience rates. NIH reports compensation of $600 or more to the Internal Revenue Service and sends a "Form 1099-Other Income" to the participant at the end of the year. Please be aware that some or all of that compensation may be garnished if the participant has outstanding debts to the federal government.
There are about 300 studies available to healthy volunteers. You can find information on these studies on the Clinical Center's home page under Search the Studies. Type in the keywords: healthy and normal.
Studies for both inpatients and outpatients vary in length of time, location (onsite at the NIH Clinical Center, the NIH hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, or at off-site facilities in other areas), age, gender, special requirements, medical exclusions, and procedures. You select the studies that interest you the most and for which you think you would qualify.
The NIH staff will explain any risks, requirements, restrictions, or possible side effects before you agree to take part in any study. It is wise and important that you ask them any questions or voice any concerns before you make a decision about taking part.
Before a study is approved for volunteer participation, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reviews and approves any that involve an investigational drug. If the study involves radiation, the NIH Radiation Safety Committee must review and approve it. These reviews and approvals must take place before any volunteer is invited to participate in a research study.
In addition, physicians, scientists, and lay people rigorously screen all studies for safety, ethics, and need. The clinical director of the supporting institute, that institute's Institutional Review Board, and the Clinical Center director are among with approval authority for each study.
One way to volunteer is to join the registry for the Clinical Research Volunteer Program (CRVP). The CRVP, created in 1995, is a resource that helps match potential research volunteers to clinical research studies at the NIH Clinical Center. To participate in the registry, we'll ask you to provide some basic information and give us permission to share that information with the research teams. If you are a potential match to a study's requirements, the study team will contact you.
How do I enroll myself or my child?
You can contact us at 301-496-4763. Parents or guardians must call to register anyone under 18 years of age.
How can I find studies currently recruiting volunteers?
You can find information about research studies currently recruiting volunteers by viewing the clinical studies website. When searching the web site, type in these words: healthy volunteers and normal volunteers. Call (301) 496-4763 or toll free 1-800-892-3276 for more information.
To determine your eligibility for a study, you may need to complete medical questionnaire forms. An NIH staff member will ask you additional questions. It is critical that you are honest and thorough in providing information about your medical and psychiatric history and about any prescription or nonprescription drugs you take. Accurate information allows investigators to judge whether the study poses any risk to you. You also must let the investigator know of your participation in any other research studies--past, present, or planned.
Before agreeing to participate in any study, the investigator will give you a consent form that explains the study in detail and in everyday, non-medical language. By signing this form, you indicate that you understand the study and volunteer to participate. As a volunteer, you are free to withdraw from, interrupt, or refuse to take part in a study at any time.