In the expansive world of medical and clinical trials, there’s an ever-growing emphasis on starting a study site and analyzing new research opportunities. Drawing from a recent in-depth discussion, Brad Hightower, CEO of Hightower Clinical, and Daniel Fox, founder of Land of Lincoln Clinical Research, shed light on the myriad challenges and strategies associated with initiating a study site, with a notable focus on community engagement.

Challenges When Starting a Study Site

Recognizing Strengths and Weaknesses: A pivotal hurdle when starting a study site is discerning individual strengths and areas of improvement. For instance, while a research physician with a rich background in genetics can be adept at formulating research hypotheses, the administrative challenges—like budgeting or recruitment—can be overwhelming. Early recognition of such nuances can lead to more effective collaborations.

The Importance of Seeking Assistance: The allure of managing all facets of a project is strong, but it’s essential to understand the limitations. For example, a single physician managing everything from patient recruitment to data entry can lead to stretched timelines, emphasizing the importance of teamwork and staff support when starting a study site.

Seizing Research Opportunities in Smaller Towns

Targeting Underserved Areas: A compelling topic of discussion highlighted the latent research opportunities in smaller towns. Consider Middleton, Kansas: a town grappling with unique health challenges, from increasing diabetes rates to limited access to specialized care. Such towns present a fertile ground for impactful research that larger urban centers might overlook.

Healthcare Integration: Integrating healthcare is key to unlocking the research potential in these pockets. Imagine a health initiative where local clinics in a rural setting are equipped with research facilities. Such integrations can bridge the urban-rural divide, opening up many research opportunities.

Strategies for Starting a Study Site: Emphasizing Community Engagement

Engage, Engage, Engage: True community engagement transcends mere interaction. Organizing health awareness camps, interactive sessions, and feedback loops with the community, can lead to a symbiotic relationship that facilitates research.

Collaborations and Partnerships: Aligning with the right partners is instrumental when starting a study site. To elaborate, a site lacking legal expertise can collaborate with a renowned legal consultancy, to ensure that all their contracts and agreements adhere to the highest industry standards and represent the site fairly in clinical trials.

Leveraging Technology for Better Results: Embracing technology can revolutionize study sites. For example, integrating wearable tech to monitor patient vitals in real-time, provides richer, more immediate data to analyze and prepares the site for the future of clinical trials: decentralized clinical trials.


Starting a study site, though brimming with challenges, offers an avenue replete with research opportunities. By championing community engagement, understanding individual strengths, and fostering collaborations, individuals and organizations can chart a pioneering course in the expansive research domain.

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Moe Alsumidaie Chief Editor
Moe Alsumidaie is Chief Editor of The Clinical Trial Vanguard. Moe holds decades of experience in the clinical trials industry. Moe also serves as Head of Research at CliniBiz and Chief Data Scientist at Annex Clinical Corporation.