Physician Resources

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is one of the nation’s foremost centers for biomedical research. Studies involving volunteer subjects (research patients and clinical research volunteers) are carried out in the NIH Clinical Center, the Federal Government’s premier biomedical research hospital, where clinical trials of the highest quality are performed. Because the research is funded by the Federal Government, there is no cost for care received at the NIH Clinical Center and volunteer subjects become partners in a special relationship with members of the research teams in the search for better ways to treat what are often debilitating disorders.

Learn more about referring patients to a clinical research protocol at the NIH Clinical Center and find additional physician resources at the NIH Web page “For Referring Physicians”.

Physicians who refer or plan to refer patients to clinical research protocols at the NIH Clinical Center make up a unique cadre of “partners in discovery.” Clinical research and medical discovery depend on the participation of patient volunteers, and many of these volunteers become involved in clinical trials because their personal physicians have discussed the option with them.

The types of clinical trials conducted at the NIH Clinical Center include the following:

  • Treatment trials test new treatments, new combinations of drugs, or new approaches to surgery or radiation therapy.
  • Prevention trials look for better ways to prevent a disease in people who have never had the disease or to prevent the disease from returning. Better approaches may include medicines, vaccines, or lifestyle changes, among other things.
  • Diagnostic trials determine better tests or procedures for diagnosing a particular disease or condition.
  • Screening trials test the best way to detect certain diseases or health conditions.
  • Quality of life trials (or supportive care trials) explore and measure ways to improve the comfort and quality of life of people with a chronic illness.

Patients may be referred by a physician or dentist in private practice, hospital, clinical, or other medical organization, and they must have a responsible understanding of their role in a research protocol.

The patient’s specific disease or condition must be under active investigation by NIH physicians at the time of admission. The investigators performing each study consider age, weight, sex, general health, and length of the waiting list for qualified patients as criteria for admission. Other medical considerations include the possibility of long-term inpatient stays and extended follow up.

Physicians may contact the Patient Recruitment and Public Liaison Office at 1-800-411-1222 or at prpl[at] to find out if a patient’s diagnosis may be of interest to investigators.

This page was last updated on Monday, January 10, 2022