The Michael J. Fox Foundation has launched Fox Trial Finder, a new Web tool that uses state-of-the art technology to connect potential study volunteers with the coordinators of clinical studies that need someone with their specific medical history. The goal is to benefit both study sponsors and patients by getting people into clinical trials and studies faster — speeding the development of new treatments and ultimately a cure for Parkinson’s disease.
“This is an example of how technology can enable us to bring new strategies to address a long-standing problem,” says Deborah W. Brooks, co-founder and executive vice chairman of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
Use It to Recruit for Your Trials
Fox Trial Finder enables faster and more efficient connections between willing volunteers and trial teams. Registered volunteers and coordinators, research assistants and investigators can review potential matches and connect directly – online and anonymously – to explore next steps. Fox Trial Finder is open to all recruiting PD trials and observational studies with regulatory approval. The site currently operates in the United States, UK, Canada and Australia. Expansion to additional international locations is expected later this year.
-Volunteer matches are customized for your trial: Fox Trial Finder compares key clinical trial eligibility criteria (such as current and past medication use, location, and Hoehn and Yahr stage) to information provided by patient and control volunteers to suggest possible matches.
-Two-way messaging with de-identified volunteers: Volunteers, who appear as an anonymous profile, can message directly with trial teams recruiting for the nearest site of a trial matches. Trial teams can also initiate communication with volunteers on the site.
-Advanced search enables tailored results based on a trial protocol: In addition to trial matches suggested based on a standard match algorithm, trial teams can search the FTF volunteer database based on specific criteria.
-Ongoing email alerts: An alert system notifies users via email of new matches and messages received on Fox Trial Finder.
Contact Tara Guastella at email@example.com to start recruiting for your trial with Fox Trial Finder.
Use It to Get Involved Yourself!
MJFF’s Brooks has not only been instrumental in conceiving, structuring and fundraising for the launch of Fox Trial Finder; she also is putting her money where her mouth is by volunteering for a clinical study herself. She is a control participant in the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), the MJFF-sponsored observational study seeking biomarkers of Parkinson’s disease progression.
This is the first time Brooks has volunteered for clinical research, and she is blogging about her experience. In her first video entry, posted on the eve of her PPMI screening visit, she reflects on her expectations for the coming day, and the journey ahead:
“As an observer and someone who professionally is sitting around the table and thinking about how to get to these answers and do what we can to make clinical research more available and relevant for patients, it’s just not enough for me to sit back and think about what other people can do. I decided I actually should do it myself; I wanted to learn firsthand what participation in a clinical trial would be all about.”
While Debi’s story is unusual, it’s not unique. Others in the MJFF family have similarly been inspired to get involved in the search for a cure. Chris Coffey, PhD, heads the PPMI Statistics Core at the University of Iowa. In fall 2011, he decided to run a marathon to raise funds for Team Fox, MJFF’s grassroots community network raising funds and awareness for the Foundation’s research programs. He writes:
“Like a lot of researchers, I’ve been inspired by The Michael J. Fox Foundation. I knew early on that I wanted to go beyond my scientific relationship with MJFF — I decided to run a marathon, something I’d never done before, to raise funds as part of Team Fox. Reading through the inspirational stories from other Team Fox members, I get the sense that I’m not the typical participant. Many have a personal connection to the disease. Although I know people who have had PD, I don’t have an immediate family member with the disease, nor have I ever been a caregiver for someone with PD.
“I ran the marathon to honor the individuals who are volunteering as control participants in PPMI. It takes a special kind of courage to dedicate oneself to the commitment required of this study when one doesn’t have the disease oneself.”