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March 22, 2007

Clinical trials web site launched

UPMC Cancer Centers and a Pittsburgh-based health care technology company are launching an interactive web site that will help patients and their families learn about clinical trials.

The site simulates a conversation by allowing visitors to type in their own questions and receive video-based answers in real time from other cancer patients, medical experts and educational guides.

“Clinical trials are extremely important as more and more cancer drugs are developed that need to be tested,” said Samuel Jacobs, associate director of clinical investigations at UPMC Cancer Centers.

“Unfortunately, many cancer patients do not learn about participating in clinical trials or have fears and misconceptions about them. Our hope is that this site will allay those fears and provide helpful information by allowing patients to ask questions openly from the privacy of their own homes.”

The site, developed by UPMC Cancer Centers along with MedRespond, features interview clips with clinical trial participants who share their personal views and experiences, and allows visitors to access an extensive menu of clinical trial topics and terms.

A section of the site addresses the Tuskegee Syphilis Study and its impact on the participation of African-Americans in clinical trials.

The web site can be accessed by clicking on the “Meet, Ask, Understand” icon at

Initial funding for the web site came from a $5.6 million grant to UPMC Cancer Centers and six other cancer centers for a public-private partnership to help overcome barriers to participation in cancer clinical trials.

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