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Research at Mass General Brigham

Research at Mass General Brigham

The hospitals, community health centers, and groups of doctors and staff at Mass General Brigham are dedicated to providing you with the best care possible. An important part of our mission is to learn new and better ways to care for our patients through research.

Research at Mass General Brigham

Our founding hospitals have a long tradition of medical breakthroughs, from the first use of ether for surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital to the first successful organ transplant at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Almost every treatment, test, drug, or medical device is a result of successful research, conducted with the help of patients like you.

Patients play an important role in research by joining studies. Having many different people involved in research helps ensure that any resulting discoveries will benefit a wide range of patients.

To make sure all of our patients have access to these opportunities, we need you to hear about our research studies. This lets you decide if you want to take part in these studies.

There are many ways you might learn about research at Mass General Brigham. One way is by using this site. Rally allows you to search studies that are recruiting from the public to find ones that interest you. You can even create an account and save searches or sign up for a weekly email to learn immediately when new research studies that match your interests are available.

Not all studies recruit from the public. Patient Research Invitations give Mass General Brigham patients access to even more opportunities to learn about research. Researchers might contact you directly about studies they hope will interest you. You can decide whether you want to learn more or participate in the study. Your care will not be affected, whether or not you choose to join a research study. If you do not want to hear about these studies, you may opt out from receiving Patient Research Invitations by submitting your request here.

Frequently Asked Questions

About Research

About Patient Research Invitations for Mass General Brigham Patients

About Rally with Mass General Brigham

About Research

What is clinical research? What are research studies?

Clinical research is research that studies health and illness in people. This type of research helps us learn how to better care for people who are ill, and how to help healthy people stay healthy. Researchers might use a clinical research study to learn if new medications or treatments work.

Why should I consider participating in research?

If you take part in a research study, you can help researchers learn more about health and illness. This helps us improve the way we take care of patients. Some people take part in research to honor a friend or family member who has a disease or condition.

You might also get access to treatments that are being studied to see if they are safe or if they work. These treatments are often only available by joining a study. You might learn more about your personal health. Lastly, you might be given money, gift cards, or other items to pay you for your time.

How am I protected?

A committee called the "institutional review board" or IRB reviews all studies before they start. The IRB includes members of the public, doctors, and scientists. The IRB makes sure risks are as low as possible. The IRB also makes sure the study is ethical and is important to do.

There are also laws and hospital rules that studies must follow to protect the people taking part in the study. The IRB requires that the study follows these laws and rules.

Before you agree to take part in a study, someone from the study team can speak with you to answer any questions, go over the risks and benefits of participating, and go over what you might be asked to do. You can decide if you want to take part in the study. For some studies, such as short surveys, you might feel comfortable taking part after reading about the study, without speaking with the study team.

If you change your mind at any time, even after the study begins, you are free to no longer take part in the study. You should let a member of the study team know if you decide to stop, so they can help you do so safely.

What usually happens in a research study?

There is no "usual" in research! Some studies may only involve a survey or questionnaire. Others may require having a test done or taking a medicine for a period of time. Research comes in all shapes and sizes. We hope there is something for everyone.

How do I hear about research studies that might interest me?

You may hear about research opportunities in several ways. Some ways include public advertisements on the radio, in the paper, or on the train. You can browse studies open to the public here on Rally. You may see flyers and posters hanging on the walls of your doctors' hallways and offices. You may be approached in-person at the hospital or in clinic. You may also receive a research invitation (for example, by letter, through Patient Gateway, or by email) from studies that might interest you. Each way helps us make sure that you know about research that matters to you.

How can I learn more or get answers to my questions?

Contact the Mass General Brigham Research Navigator Office at 857-282-5370 Monday-Friday, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM.

About Patient Research Invitations for Mass General Brigham Patients

What are Patient Research Invitations?

Patient Research Invitations are another way Mass General Brigham patients can learn about studies - including those that are open only to our patients who are seen at Mass General Brigham hospitals and practices. They allow research teams to contact patients directly by mail, email, Patient Gateway message, or phone about research that might interest them. If you are a Mass General Brigham patient, you are automatically eligible to receive these invitations.

How might I be contacted about a research opportunity?

You might be contacted by mailed letter, email, and possibly a follow-up phone call after you receive a letter about a study. If you use Patient Gateway, you might also learn about research opportunities online.

Can anyone contact me?

No! All research must be approved by a committee, called the Institutional Review Board, that reviews all research involving patients. This committee is made up of people like you from our community, as well as physicians, nurses and other people involved in research. This committee must approve how patients will be contacted and who may contact patients before a study starts.

If I receive a research invitation, am I agreeing to be in the study?

No, you are not agreeing to be in a study. An invitation is only to tell you about the study. If you are interested in being in a specific study, signing up is a separate process that the researchers will discuss with you.

Can I choose not to receive Patient Research Invitations?

Yes. If you would prefer not to be contacted by letter, Patient Gateway, phone call, email, or other direct means, you can choose to stop these messages and mailings by any of the ways below:

  • Send an opt-out request through Rally now
  • or
  • Contact the Mass General Brigham Research Navigator Office at 857-282-5370 Monday-Friday, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • or
  • Make your choice in Patient Gateway:
    1. Click this link: Patient Gateway Login
    2. Log In to Patient Gateway
    3. Click on the button: "Do not send me letters or messages about research studies"

If I opt out from receiving Patient Research Invitations, will that guarantee that I won't be contacted about research?

No. Your doctors and their teams may talk to you about research related to your care, or researchers might approach you in person at an appointment. You may also have agreed to be contacted by a hospital department, research program, or clinic about research studies. If this is the case, you can contact them directly to change your preference.

About Rally with Mass General Brigham

What is Rally?

Rally allows you to personalize how you learn about research studies at Mass General Brigham. Whether you are looking for research in a certain health area for you or for someone else, Rally can help you easily and quickly find the studies that best match your needs. You can also use this site to learn more about how research is done.

How do I find studies on Rally?

You can browse available research projects by the health topic the project is studying. You can also use search to find studies that interest you and use the filters to narrow your search down by things like location and activities that may be included in participation. Save your search to be notified when new studies that match start recruiting.

How do I search for studies recruiting healthy volunteers or healthy controls?

From the home page, click "Browse Healthy Volunteer Projects" (below the large search bar). You can also type "healthy volunteers" into the search bar or click here to find all projects recruiting healthy volunteers.

What happens after I click "I Am Interested"?

After you select "I Am Interested", someone from the study team will reach out to you, usually by phone. The study team member will be able to go into more detail about the study and answer any questions you have. They may ask you questions about yourself and your medical history, or even ask you to come in for an initial visit. Together, you can decide whether the study is a good fit for you.

If I say I am interested in a project, am I required to take part in the study?

No! Before you agree to take part in a study, someone from the study team will go over the details and review any possible risks and benefits with you so you can make an informed decision. You will have time to think about the study and discuss with others if you wish to.

If you do choose to take part in a study, you are free to change your mind at any time, even after the study begins. You should let a member of the study team know if you decide to stop participating so they can help you do so safely.

What's the difference between studies I contact through Rally and studies that send me a research invitation?

Studies that are recruiting from the public might use Rally, in addition to other announcements like flyers and advertisements, to help people learn about their research. Volunteers like you can search Rally or save searches to learn about these studies. This allows you to customize the kinds of studies you hear about.

Not all research opportunities are made public. Many of our research studies are open only to a smaller group of people. These studies might send you an invitation directly.

By hearing about studies both on Rally and directly through research invitations, you will be more likely to learn about the studies that might interest you.

Still have questions about research?

Contact the Mass General Brigham Research Navigator Office at 857-282-5370 Monday-Friday, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM.

Want to opt out of Mass General Brigham Patient Research Invitations?

Submit a request here.

Research Education Topics