FSU joins online tool that matches volunteers with research to advance healthcare

Florida State University invites the community to engage in the research process as its scientists seek to better understand complex diseases and other medical conditions.

The institution has just joined LookupMatch (https://www.researchmatch.org/ )a non-profit program funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) where people – healthy or not – can register to participate in health-related research.

“Our university is invested in this community in so many ways, so joining ResearchMatch to expand our reach through research makes sense,” said Mark Riley, FSU’s acting vice president for research. “It takes FSU research to the next level of community involvement by giving people greater opportunities to contribute to biomedical discoveries and healthcare innovation.”

Originally launched in 2009 by Vanderbilt University, the ResearchMatch database has more than 168,000 volunteers who represent diverse demographic, geographic and health backgrounds. To date, nearly 12,000 researchers have used the site to conduct nearly 1,200 studies and publish over 600 research results across the country. FSU joins five other Florida universities, as well as the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa and the UF-Scripps Biomedical Research Institute in Jupiter, using ResearchMatch.

Interested volunteers register free of charge on the secure site, providing their contact details and preferences on the types of research. Once registered, volunteers can choose to participate when the system emails them information about a specific research project. Volunteer information is kept confidential until the volunteer agrees to participate in the study. At that time, the researcher will receive the volunteer’s contact information.

The types of studies available on ResearchMatch include surveys that a volunteer can complete from home or remotely, as well as studies involving in-person participation with the researcher at the study location, usually on campus or at a nearby health facility. Studies can cover any range of health conditions, medications, or diseases, but all types of volunteers, including healthy participants, are needed.

ResearchMatch only allows studies that have been reviewed and approved by the regulatory board of a university or healthcare institution, designated to protect the rights and welfare of research participants. FSU regulators review each study and must approve before FSU researchers can publish on ResearchMatch.

For study volunteers, ResearchMatch provides an easier way to find research projects of interest, whether they are at FSU or at a research institute across the state or country. For FSU researchers, the program expands access to volunteers from the community and miles away.

“This is a free resource for connecting citizens to scientists in the ongoing quest to advance research discoveries that will improve public health and health care,” Riley said. “You never know what kind of difference your research participation could make in someone’s life, whether it’s a complete stranger or someone you love.”

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