About Studies at the Medical College of Wisconsin

The Medical College of Wisconsin’s faculty and staff submit more than 500 research studies each year. A research study is a group of activities designed to help a researcher learn more about a problem or answer a question. An Institutional Review Board (IRB) must review and approve each study before the research can begin. Doctors, clergy, scientists, people from the community and others are members of IRBs. All IRBs must follow federal rules and state laws in their review of research studies.

The IRB reviews a research study with the following questions in mind:

  • Does the study meet the needs for the people in the community?
  • Are the study activities ethical?
  • How are the rights of the participants protected?

Many Medical College of Wisconsin faculty and staff conduct research studies involving human participants. Each study has unique criteria that must be met in order to join the research study. For example, your age, health status, where you work or live, or services you receive may determine if you can join a research study. Your participation in the research may take place in a single visit or require several visits over a number of days or years.

As a participant in research you may:

  • Take a drug or use a device not yet approved by the Food Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Complete a survey
  • Be observed
  • Be involved in a combination of these activities

The research may involve you or you and your family. A private company or federal agency such as the National Institutes of Health or an organization such as the American Heart Association or Medical College of Wisconsin may supply money to conduct a research study. Other terms that are used to identify a research study may include clinical trial, research protocol, treatment trial, investigation, experimental study or a longitudinal study.


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