Urology Research Study Types

Blood and Urine Samples

Doctors often request blood and urine samples during a clinic visit to find the diagnosis of a disease, or to evaluate its impact on the patient’s health, or to monitor the effect of a treatment on the disease. The PSA test, for example, is used for screening, risk stratification and staging, and post-treatment monitoring of prostate cancer.

But no test is perfect. Laboratory equipment manufacturers strive to improve the quality of existing tests and academic researchers continue the search for new blood and urine markers as well as genes that might increase the risk of a disease or change the disease’s response to a treatment.

Blood and urine studies generally require collecting a sample and completing a survey with medical questions. The specimens are sent to a research lab and the responses entered in a database. The research coordinator removes the name and assigns a code to all data before sending them to the statistician.

The urology clinic is currently recruiting for the following study:

  • Prostate Cancer Urine Biomarkers (Principal Investigator: Dr. Loughlin)

Tissue Banking Studies

Discarded tissues can be used to create cell lines for research on the biology of cancer and to screen drug candidates.  One such program began in 1990 at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD and has been used to develop several cancer drugs.

Researchers also collect tissue samples and store them in laboratory freezers not for immediate use but as an investment in the future, several years later, when a discovery is made and needs to be validated on a large set of tumors.

If a researcher is interested in collecting a tissue sample from a tumor, he will contact the surgeon and the patient before the operation.  At the end of the operation, the tumor is sent to the pathologist for a microscopic evaluation.  Then, a small piece of the specimen is given to the researcher.

The urology clinic is currently recruiting for the following study

  • Bladder Tumor Study (Principal Investigator: Dr. Loughlin)

Patient Outcomes Studies

Simple functional tests and questionnaires can be used to explore the multidimensional nature of urinary diseases.  Researchers found, for example, that urinary problems can affect work productivity. Several of these studies led to the design of the questionnaires and surveys used in the clinic.  

Another focus of outcomes research is to find whether short term surgical results translate into long term benefits.  These studies help the surgeons to better explain the long-term results of different treatment options to the patient.

The following studies are currently active in our clinic:

  • A One Year MRI Surveillance of Localized Prostate Cancer (Principal Investigator: Dr. Richie)
  • Robotic assisted laparoscopic surgery
  • Sleep study (Principal Investigator: Dr. Loughlin)

Clinical Trials

Many patients in our clinic have volunteered to participate in clinical trials, to evaluate a drug to treat a symptom or restore a function, or to prevent cancer. The rewards appear small beside learning about a disease and helping science.

A surgeon may suggest to a patient to participate in a study when the risk is small or when no effective treatment is available.  The clinical trials entail multiple visits during which questionnaires are filled and tests are performed.  The drug under study is provided by the sponsor and distributed by our Investigational Drug Service.

While a surgeon directs the clinical trial, the research coordinator organizes the study visits according to a protocol, which was written by doctors and statisticians and reviewed by the hospital oversight committee.  The study coordinator also regularly communicates with the sponsor and the hospital oversight committee during the study.

The following study is currently active in our clinic:

  • Vivus study