Memorial Cancer Research Center

The Memorial Cancer Research Center has partnered with Mayo Clinic to provide access to cutting edge clinical trials to patients in the community. The affiliation with Mayo Clinic gives our patients access to some of the same clinical trials that are offered at Mayo Clinic, MD Anderson, John Hopkins, Memorial Sloan Kettering and other large academic centers across the country. The clinical trials offered at the Memorial Cancer Research Center include treatment, prevention and symptom management clinical trials for people who have been diagnosed with cancer and those who are at risk for developing cancer. Memorial participates in clinical trials sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and pharmaceutical companies. Memorial Cancer Research Center also participates in vaccine clinical trials. Vaccine clinical trials are some of the latest advancements in cancer care.

The Memorial Cancer Research Center has sites at both Memorial Hospital and on Day Road in Mishawaka.

What is a clinical trial?

Cancer clinical trials are research studies for developing better ways of detecting, treating, and eventually preventing cancer. There are also clinical trials for managing the symptoms of cancer and cancer treatments. Clinical trials are the final step in the process that begins with research in a lab. Most of the treatments we use today are the results of past clinical trials. By taking part in a clinical trial you are among the first to receive new research treatments before they are widely available. Your participation in a clinical trial will influence the future direction of cancer care.

Any time you or a loved one needs treatment for cancer, clinical trials are an option to think about. Trials are available for all stages of cancer. It is a myth that they are only for people who have advanced cancer that is not responding to treatment.

Every trial has a person in charge, usually a doctor, who is called the principal investigator. The principal investigator prepares a plan for the trial, called a protocol. The protocol explains what will be done during the trial. It also contains information that helps the doctor decide if this treatment is right for you. The protocol includes information about:

  • The reason for doing the trial
  • Who can join the trial (called “eligibility requirements”)
  • How many people are needed for the trial
  • Any drugs that will be given, how they will be given, the dose, and how often
  • What medical tests will be done and how often
  • What types of information will be collected about the people taking part

Types of Clinical Trials

Treatment Trials
Treatment trials research new treatments and medications or new combinations of drugs.

Prevention Trials
Prevention trials research for better ways to prevent disease in people who have never had the disease or to prevent it from returning. These approaches can include medicines, vaccines, vitamins, minerals, or lifestyle changes.

Screening Trials
Screening trials research better ways of detecting certain diseases or health conditions.

Quality of Life Trials
Quality of life trials explore ways to improve comfort and the quality of life for individuals with a chronic illness.

Phases of Clinical Trials

Phase I study
Used to learn the "maximum tolerated dose" of a drug and to assess possible side effects.

Phase II study
Involves a drug in which the dose and side effects are well known and documented. Many more participants are used in order to learn how to use the agent in the body as well as how it helps the condition under study.

Phase III study
Compares the new drug against a commonly used drug. Some subjects are given the new drug and some are given the commonly used the drug. This phase of trial is designed to determine where the new drug fits in managing a particular condition.


Randomization is the method of selecting one of two or more treatments types by chance, not by choice. Each treatment is given with the highest level of professional care and the results of each are compared.


An inactive substance or treatment that looks the same as — and is given the same way as — an active drug or treatment being tested. The effects of the active drug or treatment are compared to the effects of the placebo.