Online database helps Albertans enrol in clinical trials

The University of Calgary and Alberta Health Services have teamed up for a campaign encouraging Albertans to register for clinical trials.

Research is helping develop new treatments, strategies and surgeries, doctor says

The Be the Cure campaign from the University of Calgary and Alberta Health Services is using an online database to connect patients and doctors in clinical trials. (Shutterstock)

The University of Calgary and Alberta Health Services have teamed up for a campaign encouraging Albertans to sign up for clinical trials.

With hundreds of clinical trials already underway in the province, the Be the Cure campaign is using an online database to connect patients, doctors and researchers to find ways to detect diseases and test new treatments.

Dr. Michael Hill told the Homestretch how clinical trials are making advancements in medicine and how Albertans can get involved.

The following is an excerpt from that interview:

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Q: What are clinical trials and why are they important?

A: Clinical trials are the way we assess and understand new treatments, diagnostic strategies or surgeries in medicine to know if they're actually effective in treating patients.

And there are different tiers or level of trials before new treatments are accepted for routine use.

Q: How many clinical trials are going on in the province at any given time?

A: Hundreds. We function both as a site [for trials run out of province] … and in other cases, we're the organizing site where we're the ones recruiting other hospitals to run trials that we want to do.

Q: How has this new online tool changed how people sign up for trials?

A: It very much depends on the details of the trial.

Clinical trials are a big organizational effort and so management of information and getting access to people is critical.

A  man wearing a white lab coat and stethoscope around his neck peers into a microscope.
Dr. Michael Hill says clinical trials taking place in Alberta are helping patients, physicians and researchers find ways to prevent illness and test new treatments. (Natee K Jindakum/Shutterstock)

In the province we are part of a national strategy called the Strategy for Patient Oriented Research, or SPOR … and so we're trying to organize information so that physicians know what trials are ongoing and also so patients know.

So we want patients to register, we want physicians to know what's going on and then, if we can sum it up, what's happening nationally.

Q: How long has this been up and running and what's been the response?

A: Well it's gradually picking up momentum. I learned that we've had 3,000 hits on the website last week.

We're trying to build this in tiers so we're trying to link all these things together. So we'll have connections where patients can be involved but we also need to connect the researchers, we need to connect people in the hospitals.

Q: Is there potential for this to be expanded beyond Alberta?

A: I think it's building on what's happening globally.

Certainly when we're leading clinical trials, we look internationally for sites and hospitals that would be interested in participating. That also applies to patients.

To find out more about clinical trials happening in Alberta, visit

With files from the Homestretch