Did you know you can impact the future of health care?

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Photo credit: ABRAHAM GONZALES FERNANDEZ; iStock / Getty Images Plus.

The University of Kentucky Public Relations and Strategic Communications Office provides a weekly health column available for use and reprint by news media. This week's column is by By Denece Forenback, director of the Clinical Research Unit at the UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 30, 2023) You’ve heard a lot about health research in the recent years of the pandemic. Health research changes lives. It’s how we learn about health conditions and make discoveries to improve treatments, care, and diagnostics. Every medicine or tool we use — from vaccines to pacemakers — was developed through a process of rigorous research with strict oversight.

But research needs people like you in order to move forward. Too often, studies have to end early or don’t enroll enough participants, leaving important questions unanswered.

At the University of Kentucky, health care providers and researchers work diligently to advance discoveries that improve health. We’re part of research studies for new medications for conditions like Alzheimer’s, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), diabetes, transplant rejection and cancers, and we continue to contribute significantly to COVID-19 vaccine studies. We also have studies about a huge variety of other health and wellness issues.

You are invited to join in this discovery.  You can make a difference by participating in research. Participating is a way to help others by “giving forward.” It’s also an opportunity to learn about your own health and sometimes to access health resources before they’re widely available.

Whether you’re healthy or have a medical condition, there are opportunities for you to participate. Health research is more than clinical trials for medications or rare diseases. It can be as simple as a questionnaire, a non-invasive health test, or helping to understand the effects of exercise. Many studies compensate participants.

Health research includes extensive protection for participants. The same ethical and legal codes for medical care apply to research, which is regulated with further safeguards. UK, like every research institution, has a review board that evaluates research to ensure participants’ rights and welfare. Every study follows a carefully controlled plan of what researchers will do and what is asked of participants, and this plan is explained in detail before you decide to join. Participants are free to leave a study at any time.

Visit to learn how to get involved. You can:

  • Explore current studies at UK by topic/health status
  • Join UK’s Wellness, Health and You program, a confidential annual survey that seeks to learn how life experiences affect about Kentuckians' health
  • Join the national ResearchMatch program, an easy, secure platform that connects people interested in research with studies they might be eligible for. Visit

For questions about participating in research, contact us at

UK HealthCare is the hospitals and clinics of the University of Kentucky. But it is so much more. It is more than 10,000 dedicated health care professionals committed to providing advanced subspecialty care for the most critically injured and ill patients from the Commonwealth and beyond. It also is the home of the state’s only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer center, a Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that cares for the tiniest and sickest newborns, the region’s only Level 1 trauma center and Kentucky’s top hospital ranked by U.S. News & World Report.  

As an academic research institution, we are continuously pursuing the next generation of cures, treatments, protocols and policies. Our discoveries have the potential to change what’s medically possible within our lifetimes. Our educators and thought leaders are transforming the health care landscape as our six health professions colleges teach the next generation of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care professionals, spreading the highest standards of care. UK HealthCare is the power of advanced medicine committed to creating a healthier Kentucky, now and for generations to come.