New Bolton Center Kennett Square, PA
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Ryan Hospital Philadelphia, PA

Clinical Sciences Research Division

Welcome to the Clinical Sciences Research Division (CSRD).  CSRD is part of Penn Vet’s Department of Clinical Sciences and Advanced Medicine. 

The mission of CSRD is to discover new treatments, information, and understanding of diseases that affect veterinary species. 

CSRD is also part of the global One Health initiative that integrates all aspects of health care for humans, animals, and the environment. 

We invite you to explore everything that CSRD offers, including access to ongoing clinical trials and world-class patient care through the Ryan Veterinary Hospital here at Penn Vet.

Our Mission

The mission of CSRD is to discover new treatments, information, and understanding of diseases that affect veterinary species.

About Clinical Trials at Penn Vet

  • What are Veterinary Clinical Trials?

    Veterinary clinical trials are research studies to determine whether an intervention, such as a new drug, device, or medical procedure, is safe and effective for veterinary patients.  Clinical trials can also better define important characteristics of disease or disease progression within certain patient populations or groups.

    Results from clinical trials are amongst the highest quality of evidence that is used to formulate guidelines for patient care and medical decision-making.  The results from a clinical trial can demonstrate that a new treatment or strategy is beneficial, offers no benefit, or is unexpectedly harmful, and each of these results helps advance our knowledge.  

    Veterinary clinical trials require resources to perform, including those related to the safety and care of patients in the trial, cost of drugs or tests, and collection and analysis of patient data. Sponsors of veterinary clinical trials can include governmental bodies, private companies, non-profit organizations, and universities.

  • How do Veterinary Clinical Trials Work?

    Veterinary clinical trials follow a strict preformed plan or protocol.  The protocol helps protect patients while producing reliable scientific data. The protocol describes what sort of patients are eligible for the trial, how many patients are needed, what tests, drugs, or procedures the patients will undergo, and what type of information will be collected.

    Patients in clinical trials might receive care that is different from those not in the trial.  For example, patients might receive different or more tests or drugs.  A Primary Investigator, typically a veterinary specialist, runs the veterinary clinical trial.

  • What are the Benefits and Risks of Veterinary Clinical Trials?

    There are many potential benefits of having your pet participate in a veterinary clinical trial, including access to new medications or procedures not yet widely available. Even if your pet is assigned to a group of patients that do not receive new treatments, the monitoring and patient care might be as good as, or better, than the new treatment.

    During trials, all patients are closely monitored and followed by the clinical care team.  In some types of trials, patients are not expected to gain any direct benefit, but the information gathered can add to our knowledge and might help similar patients in the future.  

    Veterinary clinical trials also carry some risks.  These include the possibility that the new treatment is not better or perhaps even worse than the current standard of care or unexpected side effects from the treatment.  Pet owners are provided a thorough description of the clinical trial’s potential benefits and risk prior to enrolling their pet in the trial.

  • How Veterinary Clinical Trials Protect Patients

    Patient safety is a priority in any veterinary clinical trial.  The protocol for any trial is reviewed and approved by the University’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.  Any veterinary clinical trial involving client owned pets in the Ryan Veterinary Hospital is also reviewed and approved by the hospital’s Privately Owned Animal Protocol Committee.  

    Prospective pet owners are provided with an informed consent form, which outlines and describes the study’s purpose, duration, procedures, financial arrangements, and potential benefits and risks.  

    Participation in a clinical trial is always voluntary.  As such, pet owners have the right to withdraw their pet from the trial at any time and for any reason.

  • Different Trial Types

    There are many different types of veterinary clinical trials. Some are very short with participation lasting for just one veterinary visit. Others might involve several months or years of follow up time. Some trials involve dividing participating patients into two or more groups, each receiving different treatments that will then be compared.

    Some trials involve a method called randomization, which is used to divide patients between groups fairly. Finally, some trials purposely hide which treatments are being given to the patients from the pet owner and/or veterinarian to avoid bias.

  • Observational vs. Interventional Trials

    One way to consider the different types of veterinary clinical trials is to divide them on the basis of whether or not participating patients receive a treatment, drug, or procedure as part of the study plan. Those studies that simply observe patients and gather information either at a single or multiple time point are termed “observational”. In this type of study, results are commonly used to gain more understanding about a disease process or to improve the way the disease is diagnosed or monitored. Types of Clinical Trials

    Patients in observational studies typically are not expected to personally gain from participating, but help contribute to scientific knowledge that could help future patients. The second main type of clinical trial looks to test whether or not a new drug or treatment is better than what is currently being used. These “interventional” trials typically monitor participants over a period of time. Many, but not all, interventional trials divide patients into two or more groups for comparison. Some patients receive the new treatment, while others receive standard care. Thus, it is possible that patients in interventional trials will not receive the new therapy being tested..

  • Randomization and Masking (Blinding) in Veterinary Clinical Trials

    Interventional trials often assign participating patients into groups of patients that do and do not receive the trial treatment. In order to avoid bias and produce reliable results, the process by which assignment to either of these groups is often done at random. This means that patients are assigned to a treatment group by chance, rather than by choice. Typically, the trial uses a computer program to make the group assignment.

    Masking or blinding refers to not telling either the pet owner, veterinarian, or both which treatment the participating pet is receiving. Masking, like randomization, helps reduce bias. Veterinary clinical trials that use randomization or masking have procedures for quickly showing this information in the event of emergencies or if safety issues arise.