Skip Navigation

How Clinical Trials Work

medical research 600 x 340.jpg

What to look for on this episode of Smart Talk:

In an ideal world, medications, medical devices or procedures could be developed in a laboratory and be ready for use by doctors in a short amount of time.

That may be ideal, but it’s not realistic.  Today, many drugs, devices and procedures are developed through the use of clinical trials that involve human beings who volunteer to be part of them. 

Even though there are clinical trials going on all the time and the need for more volunteers, there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about them.

For example, most clinical trials take 15 to 17 years before they get approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Actually, only about 10% do make it through the clinical trial stages and are approved by FDA. Clinical trials related to hematology (the study of blood and blood-related diseases) are the most successful while oncology (cancer) trials are the least.

On this episode of Smart Talk, we’ll answer questions about clinical trials like what they involve, if a volunteer has to have the illness or disease being studied and how people can volunteer for a clinical trial?

Our guests are from Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center — a teaching hospital.  Dr. Neal Thomas is associate dean for clinical research and a pediatrician and Dr. Christopher Sciamanna is an internal medicine physician, who is exploring whether exercise is a way to prevent reinjury in older adults.  He’s looking for clinical trial volunteers.

Interested in participating in a clinicl trial?  Go to

For more on clinical trials plus a deeper look at the changing tide of healthcare–check out WITF’s Transforming Health. From policy to personal choices we’re taking a  comprehensive look at today’s health system. Online at A partnership of WITF, Penn State Health and WellSpan Health.

Untitled design (53).png

Dr. Neal Thomas & Dr. Christopher Sciamanna