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Volunteer Stories

Alyssa (McCune-Albright syndrome)

Alyssa (McCune-Albright syndrome)

As a participant in a longitudinal study about her rare condition, Alyssa has been coming to the NIH every year since she was in elementary school. Researchers have given her and her family updates and guidance about her growth and have gained valuable data about the way the syndrome is expressed as a person ages.

Annette (mother of a patient)

Annette (mother of a patient)

Annette’s daughter, Lauren, received treatment at NIH for Ewing’s sarcoma, a type of cancer. She shares how her experience at the NIH led her to begin painting hospital windows in the NIH Clinical Center.

Reed Anderson and Caitlin Anderson

Caitlin (multiple sclerosis)

Caitlin tells about her experience living with multiple sclerosis and her decision to be a part of clinical trial for MS at the National Institutes of Health. The trial has just ended and Caitlin reflects on her fears of deteriorating quickly without treatment and her hopes that her participation will help lead to a treatment or cure one day for others with MS.

Texas doctor with a strong family history of Alzheimer's becomes advocate for research

Dewayne (Mild cognitive impairment/Alzheimer’s disease)

Dewayne has a strong family history of Alzheimer's disease and he's always known that it could be in his future. So, he decided to volunteer for a study at UT Southwestern's Alzheimer's Disease Center where he could contribute to research efforts and be monitored for signs of cognitive impairment. His decision to volunteer changed his life and set him on a new course.


Dhruv (Dock8 deficiency)

Dhruv always seemed to have skin infections, and he got sick easily. Doctors in his native India originally believed his skin infections were a type of allergy. But medication wasn’t helping. Bloodwork eventually showed Dhruv had been born with a compromised immune system.


Holden (Crohn’s disease)

On the surface, Holden looks like the typical ten-year-old boy — soccer jersey, blonde hair and blue eyes, even freckles. But spend some time with him and you will realize that he is dealing with a chronic illness, Crohn’s disease, that makes his life anything but ordinary.

Women in Clinical Trials: Jamie’s Story

Jamie (cardiac defect called tetralogy of Fallot)

Jamie Gentille was born with a cardiac defect called tetralogy of Fallot, which required surgery when she was 3 years old. During that surgery, Jamie received a blood transfusion that was infected with HIV. Hear Jamie tell her story about participating in clinical research.

Clinical Trials in Parkinson's Disease

Jean (Parkinson’s disease)

Before me, there were hundreds and thousands of other people with Parkinson's who participated in clinical trials that gave me the ability to have the medications that I take today. If people today do not participate in clinical trials, there will be no cure. There will be no new medications.


Jenny (type 1 diabetes)

I participated in an NIH-funded clinical trial in high school because my mom has type 1 diabetes. Although I decided to participate to help the scientists learn more about my mom's condition, it ended up having a big benefit for me as well.

Jesus Garces-Soto and his wife, Lyssette Santiago

Jesus (bladder cancer)

Finding relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria: A patient’s journey from Puerto Rico to the National Institutes of Health.

Jeremy Davis, Joel Rodriguez, Jonathan Hernandez and Adam Cerise celebrate Joel’s successful surgery with burgers and fries.

Joel (APECED syndrome)

Nineteen-year-old Joel Rodriguez didn’t think he would be able to eat again. However, a collaboration between surgeons in the Center for Cancer Research (CCR) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) gave that back to him.

John and ALS: Participating in an NIH Clinical Study with Dr. Nath

John (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS))

NINDS Clinical Director Dr. Avindra Nath meets with clinical trial participant Mr. John Michael. Dr. Nath and his research team are conducting an NIH study to better understand amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS. In the video, Mr. Michael shares his experience as a trial participant while Dr. Nath discusses his research.

Women in Clinical Trials: Juliana’s Story

Juliana (sickle cell)

Juliana was born with sickle cell anemia, a condition in which the body’s red blood cells are sickle-shaped. It slows or blocks blood flow to parts of the body, causing intense pain called "crisis." Hear Juliana tell her story about how participating in a clinical trial saved her life.

LaZann Allen / Giant Cell Arteritis

LaZann (vasculitis)

NIH patient, Liliana, shares her experience living with lupus and how participating in NIH clinical research has helped her.

Liliana Chavez / lupus (SLE)

Liliana (systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE))

NIH patient, Liliana, shares her experience living with lupus and how participating in NIH clinical research has helped her.


Lisa (hormonal changes at midlife — healthy volunteer)

Participating in this clinical trial gave me some insights into how quality clinical research is done. Both the doctor and nurses answered any questions I had about the overall study and what they were finding, making me feel part of a larger effort to help women who experience severe difficulties with this phase of life.

Lydia's Story

Lydia (hypoparathyroidism)

As a side effect of a past surgery, Lydia developed hypoparathyroidism, a disorder that inhibits her body’s ability to manufacture enough of a particular hormone. Through a clinical study, Lydia works with researchers to manage the condition’s effects on her bones, and scientists gain useful information about the effects of using a synthetic replacement version of the hormone she lacks.


Maddie (hives when exposed to cold — healthy volunteer)

I actually work in research as well, and I know how important it is to get healthy volunteers, so I thought it would be nice to kind of give back.


Melanie (no disease identified — healthy volunteer)

I had a sister who died of cancer, so I believe it is very important for healthy people to help. We have a role to play in helping find new, more effective treatments that can save lives. What could be better than that?


Nicholas (sickle cell disease)

Nicholas was diagnosed with sickle cell disease soon after he was born. He suffered from hand-feet syndrome as a baby ("He cried and scooted around a lot because of pain in his hands and feet," recalls his mother, Bridget) and had his gallbladder and spleen taken out at age 5.

Nicole Jackson-Taylor / Lupus (SLE)

Nicole (systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE))

Nicole talks about her diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and subsequent treatment at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Olivia Wein and Harrison Wein

Olivia (stage-4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma)

Olivia was diagnosed with stage-4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma when she was just 15 years old. It was a rare diagnosis for a teenager, and she was treated in an adult ward. Now almost 50, she returned to the NIH, where Harrison, her husband of 25 years now works, to reflect on how facing her mortality at a young age has affected her life since.

Pamela CC.mp4

Pamela (multiple myeloma)

The clinical trial helps so much because one of the drugs I'm using now I used in the clinical trial, so if it helps other people, and everybody there on the days I go has the same disease usually, then I'm happy for that.

Sarah Rosenfeld with her husband and two daughters

Sarah (myxopapillary ependymoma)

In January 2016, Sarah Rosenfeld had such severe pain shooting down her legs she couldn’t walk, sleep or care for her young daughters. After weeks of physical therapy for what she thought was sciatica, she had an MRI. Thirty-seven-year-old Rosenfeld learned she had something far worse: myxopapillary ependymoma, a rare cancerous tumor in her spinal cord.

Shirley Aviles / lupus (SLE)

Shirley (systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE))

Two years after Shirley’s mother passed away from systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE), Shirley was diagnosed with SLE. She shares her story of her diagnosis and subsequent treatment at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).


Socrates (HIV/AIDS vaccine research)

I was born and raised in Culiacan, Mexico, the third of four siblings. I grew up in a very matriarchal family. I contracted hepatitis A when I was 7 years old, and though I made it through, I considered it a curse. I could not donate blood, and that always made me unhappy.

Women in Clinical Trials: Sue’s Story

Sue (cervical cancer)

Sue Scott was diagnosed with stage 1B2 cervical cancer in 2011. She went through the standard course of prescribed treatment, which works for 65% of people with cervical cancer. Unfortunately, she was part of the 35% for whom it did not work. Hear Sue tell her story about how participating in a clinical trial saved her life.


Victoria and Julia (Niemann-Pick Disease Type C)

Niemann-Pick disease type C, or NPC, is a rare childhood disease that gradually impairs brain function and movement. Researchers at the National Institutes of Health conduct NPC research, including clinical trials that test promising therapies.

Volunteering For An Alzheimer's Disease Clinical Trial

Warner (Alzheimer’s disease)

Warner decided to volunteer for the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) clinical trial for two reasons: his trust in the physician running the trial and a family history of the disease. He relates his personal experience participating in a trial, describing the various tests he takes and the benefits he perceives for his own health.


Zenovia (HIV study — healthy volunteer)

I had never knowingly encountered anyone who was HIV positive until I was a sophomore in high school. It was then that I learned that my uncle had contracted the virus and his health was rapidly failing. I was really surprised that my family never talked about his HIV or how he may have contracted the virus.

Researcher Stories

Dr. James Gulley

Building Bodily Cancer Defenses

James Gulley provides new tools in the immune system’s fight against cancer.

Video still of Andrea Apolo, M.D.

Andrea Apolo, M.D. — Spotlight on Scientists

Dr. Andrea Apolo, physician and cancer researcher, discusses her path to medical school and advice for aspiring doctors.

Study Partners in Alzheimer's Disease Clinical Trials

How Study Partners are Vital to Alzheimer’s Research

Dr. Madhav Thambisetty of the National Institute on Aging at NIH discusses the role of study partners in Alzheimer's disease clinical trials. A study partner relates her experience in an Alzheimer's trial.

Progress on the Inclusion of Women in Clinical Research

Progress on the Inclusion of Women in Clinical Research

Dr. Janine Clayton, Director of the NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health, discusses the changes made in the inclusion of women in clinical research in the last 25 years.

Video still of Dr. Janine Clayton

Why Should All Women Consider Participating in Clinical Trials?

The purpose of clinical research is to help understand how the human body works and how health and disease come about. Why is it important for all women to consider participating in clinical trials? The NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) answers this question by sharing personal experiences from clinical trial participants and insights from NIH leaders.

Encouraging African Americans to Participate in Research Studies

Encouraging African Americans to Participate in Research Studies

Dr. Janel Johnson of the National Institute on Aging at NIH talks about the importance of African-American participation in medical research.

What is Immunotherapy?

What is Immunotherapy?

National Cancer Institute Center for Cancer Research scientist and physician, Lauren V. Wood, M.D., discusses immunotherapy and cancer. Immunotherapy is a type of biological therapy that uses substances to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight cancer, infection, and other diseases.

Dr. James Gulley

Using a Cancer Vaccine to Provide Hope

Dr. James Gulley, Director of CCR's Clinical Immunotherapy Group, takes you into his clinic where he plans and conducts numerous clinical trials using cancer vaccines to treat and prevent cancer. You will hear from three of Dr. Gulley's patients currently enrolled in his clinical trials.

NEI: Interview with Wadih Zein, M.D. : Why Is Clinical Research Important

Why Is Clinical Research Important?

National Eye Institute interview with Dr. Wadih Zein, staff clinician, Ophthalmic Genetics and Visual Function Branch, talks about why clinical research is important.

Children and Clinical Studies: Messages for researchers

Children and Clinical Studies

In this video, more than a dozen pediatric clinician-researchers, doctors, and nurses talk about the importance of conducting clinical trials for children and what motivates them to do this critical work.

Brian Wansink Spotlight

Eating Habits

Brian Wansink, Professor at Cornell University, discusses how a lot of eating habits can be changed by changing the environment in which people encounter food.

Carl Lejuez Spotlight

Addictive Behaviors

Carl Lejuez, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park, and Director of the Center for Addictions, Personality & Emotional Research, discusses translational research — studying the basic internal processes that lead people to addictive behaviors.

Charlene Quinn Spotlight


Charlene Quinn, Associate Professor, University of Maryland School of Medicine, discusses new mobile technologies and behavioral changes that could reduce the number of diabetes cases related to lifestyle and eating habits.

Nina Jablonski Spotlight


Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Penn State University, discusses how human lifestyle decisions impact the health of our skin and our skin's ability to mediate our health overall.

National Database for Autism Research

National Database for Autism Research (NDAR)

The National Database for Autism Research provides a way for scientists share data on human autism studies. Families with autism can accelerate discoveries by participating in research and consenting to have their data shared.

Clinical Trials for Rare Blood Diseases (Neal Young, M.D.)

Clinical Trials for Rare Blood Diseases

Dr. Neal Young talks about the importance of conducting and participating in clinical trials and the difference these studies have made in the lives of people with severe blood and bone marrow diseases such as aplastic anemia.

NEI: Retinopathy of Prematurity

Retinopathy of Prematurity

Clinical research has shown that through an eye exam, doctors can identify infants who are most likely to benefit from early treatment for a potentially blinding eye condition called retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), resulting in better vision for many children.

Why Participate in Clinical Research?

Why Participate in Clinical Research?

NIH-supported helps volunteers and researchers connect for clinical trials. Researchers and clinical trial participants explain what it's like to volunteer for a trial and how it promotes medical advances.

King George VI giving a public speech


In a 2010 movie, The King’s Speech, many learned for the first time about King George VI of England’s speech challenge known as stuttering and about the King’s work with a speech therapist to overcome this communication disorder heard in speeches such as this one he delivered in Wembley Stadium.

Clinical Research Nurses

Why I Do Clinical Research

Clinical research nurses tell about their pleasure in working with clinical trials.

Becoming a Medical Researcher Is Not For Everyone

Why We Became Scientists

As featured on LabTV, NIH researchers talk about why they became scientists and what they hope to accomplish through their research.

This page last reviewed on October 29, 2018