Cancer Clinical Trials at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center

  • Resize font
  • Print
  • Email
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Pinterest

The National Institutes of Health Clinical Center.

Credit: National Cancer Institute

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, is America’s largest hospital devoted entirely to clinical research. NIH physicians accept patients only if they have an illness that is being studied and they are eligible for a clinical trial.

NCI Clinical Trials at the NIH Clinical Center

Cancer research at the NIH Clinical Center takes place within the National Cancer Institute’s Center for Cancer Research’s clinical program and the Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis (DCTD) Developmental Therapeutics Clinic.

Center for Cancer Research (CCR)

The Center for Cancer Research is NCI’s in-house cancer center. Its mission is to improve the lives of cancer patients by solving important, challenging, and neglected problems in cancer research and patient care. CCR’s clinical teams are made up of compassionate doctors, nurses and care specialists who specialize in carrying out clinical trials that are testing new treatments.

There are several ways to find information about CCR clinical trials taking place at the NIH Clinical Center. You can:

If you search for trials yourself, first review the trial information and eligibility criteria. Then, contact a member of the research team listed in the trial summary to discuss a screening visit or to request more information.

Developmental Therapeutics Clinic

The Developmental Therapeutics Clinic is an NCI clinic that supports the work of the Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis (DCTD). It conducts early-phase clinical trials of novel cancer treatment agents for patients with advanced cancer who may have no other standard treatment options. Trials in the clinic use the scientific resources of the DCTD to provide better understanding of techniques of treatment, selection of patients, and combinations of agents.

To find out which clinical trials are offered through the Developmental Therapeutics Clinic, visit their list of open trials. For contact information for the Clinical Research Referral Coordinators and a copy of the Patient Self-Referral Form, see their Referrals–Contacts for Patients page.

About the NIH Clinical Center

The NIH Clinical Center is a unique hospital that it is devoted to research with people. Unlike most hospitals, the Clinical Center does not provide standard diagnostic and treatment services. The Clinical Center is arranged so that patient care units are close to the laboratories where related research is taking place. This approach fosters interaction and collaboration among clinicians and researchers.

Medical Care at the Clinical Center Is Free

Another unique feature of the NIH Clinical Center is that once you are in a clinical trial, medical care is free. You also receive help paying for travel if you are not local and food and lodging expenses if you are being treated as an outpatient. However, you are responsible for costs related to your initial screening.

Even though most costs are covered, it is important for you to maintain health insurance while receiving treatment at the Clinical Center, since you many need coverage for medical care that is required outside of the trial or that is provided away from the Clinical Center.

International Participants

People from other countries can join clinical trials at the NIH Clinical Center if you meet the trial’s eligibility requirements. However, due to limitations on resources and funding, U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents have priority. You must also pay for your own travel to the United States and have a place to stay while you are here.

International patients planning to travel to the United States for cancer treatment should contact the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country for visa eligibility and application procedures.

Working with Your Healthcare Provider

NCI and your referring health care provider will coordinate your care. On receiving a referral, the NCI principal investigator will discuss the trial and treatment with your health care provider. Once you are enrolled in a trial, the principal investigator will send updates and test results at regular intervals.

NCI encourages health care providers to continue open communication with their patients throughout the clinical trial. Patients are encouraged to share their clinical trial experience with their health care providers. Referring health care providers are welcome to call the NCI research team conducting the trial at any time to discuss patient treatment plans and care.