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Investigator-Initiated Studies

What is investigator-initiated research?

  • A physician/researcher has an idea from a pattern they see in treating their patients, which leads to a hypothesis, which leads to building a study plan
  • The researcher can be creative and explore their own novel ideas of how they can ultimately help patients
  • Differs from a "sponsored study" which is developed and supported financially by an organization such as the National Institutes of Health, a pharmaceutical company, or a device manufacturer

Examples of this type of study

Secretin infusion for pain due to chronic pancreatitis (trial described above)

  • Dr. Tim Gardner from Gastroenterology is evaluating a medication called Secretin which causes the pancreas to empty its enzymes
  • Key question the study is looking to answer: how effectively can Secretin help eliminate pain for patients with chronic pancreatitis?
  • How this study started: Dr. Gardner noticed that his patients who were taking Secretin to help diagnose their pancreatitis, seemed to feel better after receiving the medication
  • How this clinical trial works: patients come in for 3 days and get various doses of Secretin and their pain level is measured
  • Results so far: 12 DHMC patients have completed the study and most have seen an improvement in their immediate pain
  • What's next?: Since there have been some positive results from this small study, the GI team will be setting up a larger placebo-controlled study involving other hospitals to further investigate the role of Secretin and the best dosing to help with pain from chronic pancreatitis

OPERA: outcomes, preferences, education, resource utilization, assessment

  • This study involves a group of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) specialists from the US, Canada, and Australia; however, the program was started by DHMC's Dr. Corey Siegel in Gastroenterology
  • The work: a web-based patient database is used to look at novel and controversial research topics in IBD
  • Why this work is unique:
    • patients enter their own health and quality of life information in the database and agree to be available for future research studies
    • researchers gain an understanding of the broad range of personal, clinical, social and economic variables contributing to the IBD patient's daily life
  • The future: the research group collectively cares for over 10,000 IBD patients which means data on health outcomes and patient preferences will build up fast; the information from patients will ultimately help create more effective ways to deliver care to and educate IBD patients across the globe – an effort that began at Dartmouth-Hitchcock
  • Learn more at