I am old enough to remember the fear of polio. When the first vaccines were available, everyone, I mean everyone, stood in line at the local high school to get vaccinated. The lines were blocks long. I remember seeing every person I knew, and many who I didn't, stand in line. No one complained about the inconvenience because this vaccine would prevent polio. The vaccine was free. It eliminated the pervasive fear of polio that came every summer.
I'm not a scientist, but I think it is important to support science. Walking in the March for Science was a visible statement along with a mass movement. But there are many other ways that any individual can help at any time. One option is to participate in a medical research study as a healthy NORMAL control subject.
With emerging technologies to inexpensively study genetic markers, DNA, and manage volumes of information, medical research is changing. Now with something as easy a saliva sample, studies can look for genetic markers for disease -- but many studies take much longer time to complete due to a lack of a reference population. They need more NORMAL people to compare samples and distinguish non-disease from disease.
The future holds the possibility of treatment for many diseases before there are even symptoms. Medicines are being developed and studied to understand their effectiveness based on an individual and not the whole population.
This is where every artist and maker can help advance science. By agreeing to participate in research as a healthy control, you can advance science. A small amount of your time, saliva, blood...or other samples can advance science. Many of the studies that I have participated in were only a survey or demographic study. Your participation in science can change the world.
Below are three places to sign up for a study as a control subject. You can just participate based on your availability, whether there are study centers/universities near you, your interest in a research topic, etc. Perhaps there is a disease that runs in your family that you would like to understand better and change the treatment for future generations. You always have the choice to participate in a study as a healthy control.
Michael J.Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research matches you up to studies. Not all studies relate to Parkinson’s
Research Match will match you up with a number of different studies. You can say no to anything that you don't have time to do.
Verily Life Science — a Google life sciences company owned by Alphabet — is finally kicking off the massive study it first announced three years ago. What is a healthy person? Sounds really interesting, doesn't it?
This post was updated on December 13th, 2021.