Clinical Trials for Researchers

The general steps involved with starting up a clinical trial are summarized here.  Note that the particular sequence of the steps may vary according to individual requirements, and some steps may occur concurrently.

Please also visit MCW Clinical Trials Office (CTO) to learn about research support services for Investigators and Coordinators.

For information on clinical trials pertaining to cancer, please visit the Cancer Center Clinical Trials Office website for information on available services and support for interventional cancer trials.

If your clinical trial requires any resource (i.e. staff support, supplies, equipment, protected health information (PHI), etc.) from a Froedtert Health entity (e.g. Froedtert Hospital (FH), Community Memorial Hospital (CMH), St Joseph’s Hospital (SJH) or any FH Clinic), researchers must connect with the FH Office of Clinical Research Innovative Care Compliance (OCRICC) to facilitate collaboration with the FH Leader: email OCRICC or visit the SCOUT site.

OnCore is MCW's clinical trial management software available to all departments through the MCW CTO.

Visit the new OnCore Support website for details on the special features of OnCore, including how to register for an OnCore account and how to obtain training.

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  Identify your protocol

Protocols can come from various sources.  Investigators can develop or draft their own protocols or they can pursue the option of becoming a local PI on a regional, national, or global trial.  Pharmaceutical companies, Cooperative groups, and Clinical Trial Consortiums are all avenues by which clinical trials can be opened locally at MCW.

  Sign Confidentiality Agreement (CDA)

If you decide to open a trial through industry, you most likely will need to complete a Confidentiality Disclosure Agreement (CDA) before the sponsor will release the protocol document to you and your staff.

The CDA should always pass through the Office of Grants & Contracts (GCO) to ensure the language is appropriate for the investigator to sign; often, the language requires some level of editing before signature.

The Medical College of Wisconsin maintains a corporate policy Contract Requirements for Sponsored Human Research (RS.GC.040) which is available on the College’s intranet site. If you have access to InfoScope, review this policy by searching for keywords “contract requirements” and select the link to this policy.

  Assess Feasibility

Before you can fully commit to a research project, feasibility must be assessed.  Determine the logistics needed within your own MCW department and others, such as Radiology, Cardiology, Wisconsin Diagnostic Laboratories, etc.  The following questions should be considered as part of the assessment process:

  • Does your department/clinic have the qualified staff, equipment, and time to run the trial?
  • Do you need/have a clinical research coordinator or assistant?
  • Do you need procedural and professional services?
  • Do you need translation services (PDF)?
  • Do you have a qualified staff member to do the IRB submission?
  • Who will do the data entry and fill out the case report forms?
  • How will you recruit subjects?
  • Will Froedtert departments/resources be necessary for the trial?
    • Does your protocol require CT or MRI scans?
    • PET scans?
    • EKGs?
    • Blood Draws?
    • Drugs?
    • PHI?

Feasibility issues involving resources requested of FH departments must go through OCRICC.  Feasibility not assessed via OCRICC will not be honored by FH.  Sponsor surveys of any kind that address FH resources/equipment must be facilitated through OCRICC.

  Review with Department/Committees

Departments often have their own committees that review clinical trials prior to making a final decision about opening them, such as a Scientific Review Committee, Faculty Disease Group, Data Safety Monitoring Committee, etc.  Sometimes the review group consists of formally appointed members; other times the trial must simply be discussed among other physicians within the department.  Consult with your department Administrator or colleagues within your department to learn what steps to take for departmental review.

  Identify Funding

Adequate funding is needed for every clinical trial. Sponsored clinical trials include funding.  However, if you are opening an investigator initiated trial, you will likely need to obtain funding to support the trial.  Therefore, it is important to assess the cost of running a trial and seek adequate funding.  We recommend visiting the Finding Funding section in Research Resources for current opportunities, links to funding agencies, and resources available to assist you in your search for funding.

  Develop and Finalize Budget

Applications for funding are submitted via eBridge in the form of a Funding Proposal which are routed through the Office of Grants & Contracts (GCO).

Final budgets are negotiated by the department or investigator, not the GCO.

Your study will not be IRB approved until funding is awarded. There are several sources of support to assist you with the submission process:

  Obtain Approvals


You must receive IRB approval prior to beginning any research activities. Your study may also require prior approval from ancillary committees, depending on the nature of the research to be conducted: e.g. Radiation Safety Committee, Institutional Biosafety Committee, MRI Safety Committee.

The approval process is conducted via eBridge, the College’s online mechanism for submitting protocols. Your department may have a designated person or persons who can assist you in completing the eBridge IRB application, known as a SmartForm.  Research Systems Training also has services for assisting you with your submission process.

We recommend reviewing What is eBridge? and Working with Human Subjects within the Obtaining Approvals section of Research Resources.  Within Obtaining Approvals you will also find information on how to obtain approval for Working with Radioactive Material, Working with MRIs, Working with Biologicals, etc.


OCRICC (Office of Clinical Research and Innovative Care Compliance)

Clinical trials that utilize any FH resources - staff, facilities, equipment, etc. - in one way or another, must be reviewed via OCRICC to ensure that FH has the staff, equipment, and other resources to successfully support the trial.  OCRICC facilitates collaboration with FH leaders for researchers to receive a commitment of these requests for the research.  Following notification of MCW/FH IRB Approval, OCRICC provides a FH Administrative Approval for your protocol before researchers can consent any patient.  Submitting your project’s OCRICC application at the same time as the IRB submission will facilitate the FH administrative approval, and will typically follow notification of MCW/FH IRB approval within an average of 3 business days.