Clinical Research at Cancer Specialists of North Florida

Cancer Specialists of North Florida have been involved in clinical trials since 1995 and started as part of the US Oncology Research program. We have continued our efforts and actively pursued and expanded our clinical trials to fit the community setting. We collaborate with cooperative and other clinical trial groups to broaden access to trials. Our group participated in indication Phase III trials that led to approval of key Oncology drugs such as Eloxatin® (oxaliplatin), Eribitux® (cetuximab), Procrit® (epoetin alfa), Aranesp® (darbepoetin alfa), Avastin® (bevacizumab), Velcade® (bortezomib), Yervoy® (ipilimumab), Iressa (gefitinib), Gleevec (imatinib), Tarceva® (erlotinib) and Herceptin® (trastuzumab).

Our clinical research team participates in a wide variety of research initiatives on an on-going basis. Our physicians work in partnership with Melissa Rammage, Clinical Trial Manager, as well as their panel of research coordinators to study, evaluate and conduct new drug therapy protocols for participating patients. Together, they bring the most meaningful advances to cancer care in our community.

Cancer Specialists of North Florida, Clinical Research Team

CSNF Research Committee

CSNF Department of Clinical Research

  • Melissa Rammage, Pharm.D, MS
  • Lynn Rosario, RN, BSN, CCRP
  • Rita Faulkner, RN, OCN
  • Barbara Harris, RN, OCN
  • Kara Coleman, CPhT
  • Joan Ollie, RN, BSN
  • Bhaloo Desai, PhD
  • Alisa Penrod, RN, MSN, CBCN
  • Cathi Williamson, MS, BSN, CCRC

Research Data Analysts

  • Kathy Flanagan
  • Tamara Davis, CCRP
  • Leah Hazelgrove
  • Jessica Schllesinger, BA

Regulatory Specialists

  • Carol Starr, BS, CCRP
  • Petra Aaronian, BA

Clinical Trials Frequently Asked Questions

What are Clinical Trials?

Clinical trials are research studies to test new and promising ways to treat diseases. These studies test new ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, or treat diseases. Before a medication or procedure can be FDA-approved, it must be tested to make sure that it is safe and effective. All cancer drugs in use today were approved as a result of a clinical trial. In oncology, clinical trials are especially important because, in the absence of high cure rates, nearly all therapeutic approaches are developmental in nature. CSNF’s goal is to provide patients with investigational and approved therapies without the need to travel to large treatment centers. Patients are able to receive advanced investigational treatments in the comfort of their community.

Should I Consider a Clinical Trial?

Clinical trials not only help advance the level of patient care for the future, individual patients can often benefit by receiving cutting-edge care before it is approved for general use.

Choosing to take part is an individual decision, based on your health and your medical condition. When you consider entering a study, you will be given all the information available and have the opportunity to discuss your options in detail with your health-care provider. Only you can decide if the study is right for you.

If you choose to participate and change your mind later, you are free to voluntarily withdraw from study participation at any time and for any reason. You will receive the same high quality care as those patients who are not participating in a clinical trail.

Will I Be Treated Like a “Guinea Pig”?

You will always be treated with dignity and respect throughout the clinical trial process. Specially trained nurses and research physicians will monitor your progress, and your doctor will only recommend a treatment that he or she believes is right for you.

Will I be Given a Placebo?

Individuals in a control group during a clinical trial receive the standard of care treatment for their conditions. If a treatment shows exceptional promise in helping combat the disease, patients are often “crossed over” from the control group into the trial group so they receive all the benefits of the new protocol.

What is the Purpose of Conducting a Clinical Trial?

A clinical trial takes new treatment protocols that work well in the laboratory and try them on patients. The purpose is to monitor how effective these treatments are on people and what, if any, side effects occur. Clinical trials are the final steps in the process of getting new treatments approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

What are the Phases of a Clinical Trial?

There are four phases. Each phase is designed to determine specific information about the potential new treatment including risks, safety and effectiveness compared to standard therapy. The hope is that the new therapy will be an improvement over the previous standard therapy.

Phase I trials are the first human trials for a new treatment and are usually limited to a small number of people (usually fewer that 20). The goal of a Phase I trial is to find the highest dose and the best way to give a new therapy without undesirable side effects. This phase is probably the most important step in the development of a new drug or therapy. Upon completion of phase I trials, the information that has been gathered is used to begin phase II trials.

Phase II trials test whether a new therapy is useful to fight cancer. Phase II trials are open to more patients than Phase I trials, about 25 to 100 patients. In Phase II, doctors look for side effects and to see whether the drug actually kills cancer cells in humans. Drugs or therapies that are shown to be active in phase II trials may become standard treatment or be further evaluated for effectiveness in phase III trials.

Phase III trials test whether the new treatment kills more cancer than the currently approved standard (the most effective) treatment. Phase III clinical trials are open to many people, usually hundreds to thousands. Phase III trials require a large number of patients to measure the statistical validity of the results because patient age, sex, race, and other unknown factors could affect the results. These studies are conducted throughout the nation, and some are international. If a treatment is found to be safe and effective the research is sent to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for review. The FDA decides whether the new treatment can be used in the general public.

Phase IV clinical trials study treatments already approved by the FDA to find the best way to use the new treatment. Patients do not need to be in a study to receive the new drug, since it is FDA approved, but can choose to participate.

How Can I Learn More About Clinical Trials of Possible Interest to Me?

Learn about the trials available at CSNF or talk to your physician. You can also learn about clinical trials around the country at the National Cancer Institute.