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Research discoveries and innovative care

Clinical trials are part of medical research, and they are at the heart of all medical advances. We use this method of research to find new ways to prevent, detect or treat diseases. Our research may be used to study new drugs or new drug combinations, new ways to use existing treatments or new surgical procedures or devices. We are devoted to providing you and your family with the best medical treatments and medication possible. The research conducted at Novant Health enables us to serve our community with innovative treatments and progressive healthcare before it is widely available.

Why participate in clinical research? If you choose to volunteer for one of our clinical research studies, you are ultimately helping us pave a path for the medicine of tomorrow. With your help, our carefully conducted investigations could help our researchers offer hope for many people. In return you could gain access to new research treatments before they are widely available and receive regular and careful medical attention from our research team, which is made up of doctors and other health professionals. Since our clinical trials are often designed to test the effectiveness and safety of new treatments, benefits cannot be guaranteed. Some trials may involve risks, just as routine medical care and activities of daily living. We make sure to clearly and carefully explain the risks and benefits of all of our clinical trials so you are informed to make your own decision.

To learn more about the clinical research we conduct or to get information about participating in a clinical trial, contact the Novant Health location nearest you.

You can also visit our cancer and heart research sections to learn more about our medical research in those areas.

Frequently asked questions

What is a clinical trial? - Clinical trials are research studies that involve patient volunteers to help find different ways to treat diseases such as cancer. Each study is designed to answer specific scientific questions and find better ways to prevent, diagnose or treat cancer.

Why are clinical trials important? - Clinical trials are vital to the fight against cancer because they determine if a new treatment is safe and effective. Today’s research will help us improve tomorrow’s cancer care.

What happens during a clinical trial? - When someone chooses participate in a clinical trial, the care they receive is much like the care they would otherwise receive. However, there is often additional monitoring to learn about the potential side effects and benefits of the clinical trial. Some trials study new drugs, devices or combination therapy. Throughout the trial, patients are monitored closely by their physician and research nurses who are specially trained in cancer research.

Should I participate in a clinical trial? - This is a very personal decision. Your healthcare team can help you determine if a clinical trial is right for you. We encourage you to talk with your family and loved ones before deciding. Clinical trials may be found to be more or less effective than current standard treatments and may have side effects not yet known. You will be informed of these risks as much as possible, but be assured that your healthcare team will give you the information you need to make the decision that is right for you.

Guide to reading clinical trials

Learn how to read and understand cancer research clinical trials. »

Clinical trial phases

Phase 1 studies - Phase 1 studies are the first introduction of an investigational new drug into humans. These studies are closely monitored and may be conducted in patients or normal volunteer subjects.

Phase 2 studies - Phase 2 studies are conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of a drug for a particular indication or indications in patients with the type of cancer under study. The goal of Phase 2 studies is to determine the common short-term side effects and risks (if any) associated with a new drug.

Phase 3 studies - Phase 3 studies are performed after there is preliminary evidence suggesting that a new drug is effective for cancer treatment. In a Phase 3 study, researchers gather the additional information about the effectiveness and safety that is needed to evaluate the overall benefit-risk relationship of the drug. In addition, information from a Phase 3 study is used to provide guidelines for physician labeling.

Phase 4 (or post-marketing) studies - After the Food & Drug Administration has approved a drug for marketing, Phase 4 studies gather additional information about the drug's risks, benefits and optimal use.

Talk with your doctor to determine if a clinical trial could be right for you. You may call the Novant Oncology Research Institute in Charlotte (704-384-5369) or the Novant Clinical Research Institute in Winston-Salem (316-277-0910) to learn more about current trial participation opportunities.