Research and Clinical Studies Triptych

Advances in our understanding of childhood cancer and advances in treatment begin as research, both in the laboratory and in doctors' offices and hospitals around the world, including Seattle Children's.

We belong to national and international research groups, such as the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), dedicated to improving care specifically for children and young adults with cancer and someday finding a cure. By being part of these groups, we can offer our young patients the latest treatment options through clinical trials, including phase 1 and phase 2 trials – early studies not available at many other treatment centers.

Through our partnership in Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), our patients benefit from the research of physician-scientists at Fred Hutch and UW Medicine, as well as the experts here at Seattle Children’s.

Close work between our research and clinical programs means that the knowledge we gain through research transfers to the care we provide to all children with cancer.

Read answers to frequently asked questions about taking part in research.

To contact Seattle Children’s about taking part in a cancer clinical trial:

  • Call 206-987-2106 or, toll-free, 866-987-2000.
  • Email us.

What’s the difference between lab research and clinical trials?

Doctors and other researchers at Seattle Children’s and at our SCCA partner organizations engage in lab research and clinical trials.

In the lab

Lab research, also called bench research or basic research, focuses on the many forms of research that don’t directly involve people, or human subjects, in experiments.

For example, researchers may study the life cycle of cancer cells, looking for points in the cycle when we might be able to kill the bad cells or stop them from reproducing if we develop a new medicine.

Or, researchers may study the ways that certain types of cancer cells respond to a medicine. These cells may come from animals or from people with cancer who gave permission to use samples of their tissue. These people have no other role in the study. In basic research studies, the cells are exposed to the medicine in the lab; the people do not take the medicine.

Researchers can learn a great deal about how a disease develops and how it responds to different treatments, or interventions, through lab research. Often, this type of research becomes the basis for clinical trials later on.

Read more about lab research for cancer and blood disorders at Seattle Children’s and SCCA, including these projects:

In the clinic

Clinical trials take place in a clinical setting, such as a doctor’s office or hospital. They involve people who receive a certain intervention and are monitored for effects.

Most children with cancer receive treatment by taking part in clinical trials.

Researchers must always explain a clinical trial to a person who might take part and get their agreement before any research begins. This process is called "informed consent."

In the case of children, the parents or legal guardians go through the informed consent process and decide whether the child will be in the study. The main parts of informed consent are:

  • Giving the person enough information about the study
  • Giving the person a chance to weigh their options
  • Answering the person's questions about the study
  • Making sure the person understands the information
  • If the person agrees to take part, having them sign a form
Depending on the child's age, the healthcare team can help explain a study in ways the child can understand so the child can be part of making the decision.

Read more about cancer clinical trials at Seattle Children’s, including these resources: