Written by Jack Beecher, TrialJourney Data Analyst
“According to the TrialJourney database, Columbus is propelled into the conversation of top American cities for medical research in large part due to the contributions of Ohio State,” said Dr. Irfan Khan, CEO of Circuit Clinical. “We hope that the findings we present about the clinical trials landscape of Columbus are useful to providers, as well as patients seeking clinical research as a care option, in the area.”
Columbus appears to be punching above its weight class in the clinical trial industry. Despite being the 24th most populous CSA in the United States (with a population of 2,508,498)5, as well as the 32nd-largest Designated Market Area by Nielsen in 20173, Columbus has the 17th-most studies of all Combined Statistical Areas (CSAs) in the country, according to TrialJourney™, a powerful and dynamic platform that helps patients find, choose, and rate their clinical trial experiences1. TrialJourney has transformed the national clinical trial database into a user-friendly interface.
A total of 11,053 clinical trials have been conducted in the greater Columbus area since they have been tracked1, this region includes nearby towns such as Dublin, Bexley, and Gahanna while extending as far outwards as Zanesville, Bellefontaine, and Mount Vernon among others. For context, CSAs with populations comparable to that of Columbus include Indianapolis (with 2,431,361), Las Vegas (2,486,543), Kansas City (2,487,053), and Salt Lake City (2,606,548)5, which have a 7,351, 7,152, 7,906, and 6,407 studies over the same timeframe, respectively1. More trials have also been conducted in Columbus than several larger cities, including San Diego (which has a population of 3,140,069 and 9,776 trials), Phoenix (a population of 4,737,270 and 9,738 trials), and Tampa (a population of 3,091,399 and 9,597 trials)1,3,4,5. These cities also all have higher DMA ranks than Columbus; they were ranked 28th, 12th, and 11th by Nielsen, respectively3.
The clinical trial landscape in Columbus is dominated by Ohio State, whose health system accounted for more than one-third of the city’s active* trials in 2018 (38.5%, to be more exact). Other significant players in this total include OhioHealth (about 18.5%), Nationwide Children’s Hospital (about 10%), and Mount Carmel Health (about 7%). Research in the Columbus CSA is relatively concentrated; these four health systems accounted for roughly 74% of Columbus active research in 2018, and only four hospitals had more than 100 active trials. More notably, the four health systems mentioned above were the only ones in Columbus to have more than 100 active studies in 2018. At the individual hospital level, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center reigned supreme with 725 active studies in 2018, accounting for about 23.6% of the active trials in Columbus last year alone. This is amplified even further when its cancer institute (the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital) is added to the mix, with another 351 active trials. Other significant research hospitals in Columbus during 2018 include Nationwide Children’s Hospital (304 trials), OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital (150 trials), the Zangmeister Cancer Center (98 trials), and the Adena Regional Medical Center (94 trials). The majority of these sites have seen ample growth in their trial volume over the past decade, as well; from 2008 to 2018, Wexner has more than doubled its output (355 active trials in 2008 to 725 in 2018), the James Cancer Hospital has nearly doubled (184 to 351 trials over the same span), Nationwide Children’s Hospital has more than doubled from 125 to 304, OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital has nearly tripled from 58 to 150, and the Zangmeister Cancer Center has gone from 18 to 98 trials. Other growing sites in Columbus include Ohio State’s Martha Morehouse Outpatient Care, OhioHealth Grant Medical Center, Knox Community Hospital, Licking Memorial Hospital, and Mount Carmel St. Ann’s Hospital, among others1.
Outside of major health systems, several alternative clinical sites also contribute to the research landscape of Columbus, and only appear to be doing so in a greater fashion as the years pass. For example, Columbus Oncology and Hematology Associates was the most active alternative site in Columbus in 2018, with 54 active trials; remarkably, this number has grown to 54 in 2018 from 4 in 20081. A similar trend exists for Aventiv Research Columbus (7 active trials in 2008 to 46 in 2018), Newark Radiation Oncology (2 active trials in 2008 to 46 in 2018), and Central Ohio Radiation Oncology – Delaware Radiation Oncology (2 active trials in 2008 to 45 in 2018)1. It is evident that these are among the emerging sites in the Columbus clinical research landscape, looking to make their mark in the advancement of medicine.
More recent analyses of the TrialJourney database have also been conducted, allowing for a current look at the landscape of clinical trials in Columbus. At the moment, there are 4,904 active clinical trials in the greater Columbus area2. Of these, 2,316 (or, 47.2%) are currently recruiting patients for participation2. Ohio State’s health system is still the most active in the area, with 1,336 active trials (766, or 57.3%, of which are recruiting), accounting for 27.2% of active trials and 33.1% of recruiting trials in the CSA. The Wexner Medical Center currently accounts for 667 (49.9%) of Ohio State’s active trials and 13.6% of Columbus’s active trials alone, with 438 (65.7%) recruiting (also accounting for 57.2% of Ohio State’s recruiting trials and 18.9% of all such trials in Columbus). The James Cancer Hospital adds another 541 active trials to Columbus’s landscape, 262 (48.4%) of which are recruiting, accounting for 40.5% and 34.2% of Ohio State’s active and recruiting trials as well as 11% and 11.3% of active and recruiting trials in the entire are, respectively. Beyond Ohio State, OhioHealth also comprises a significant portion of Columbus’s landscape, with 1,091 currently active clinical trials (421, or 38.6%, of which are recruiting), comprising 22.2% of Columbus’s active trials and 18.2% of the area’s recruiting trials. Also of note are the current contributions of Mount Carmel Health (447 active trials, 192 [43%] of them recruiting, making up 9.1% of Columbus’s active trials and 8.3% of its recruiting trials) and Nationwide Children’s Hospital (310 active trials, 195 [62.9%] of them recruiting, making up 6.3% and 8.4% of active and recruiting trials in Columbus, respectively)2.**
There certainly are options in the greater Columbus area for clinical research as a form of healthcare; in 2018, there were 24 different individual locations in the CSA that had over 40 active studies1. However, the top health systems in Columbus, especially Ohio State, reign supreme more so than those of a city with more depth (i.e., one with more systems that boast a large number of trials). Overall, Columbus is an encouraging area for research, boasting a large amount despite a relatively small population for a bigger city, while outperforming several larger markets.
*Active in 2018 = Active at any point in 2018 (Start date of study is before 12/31/2018 and end date is after 1/1/2018)
**As part of our ongoing quality assurance process, we've enhanced and improved our trial accounting algorithm in order to capture clinical trials with inconclusive and/or unstated completion dates.