Written by Jack Beecher, TrialJourney Data Analyst
"TrialJourney's unique data transformation gives us a new window into the story of clinical research in Tampa and its surrounding areas," said Dr. Irfan Khan, CEO of Circuit Clinical. "We hope this snapshot is of interest and utility to patients, physicians, research sites and health systems as we work towards improving access to clinical research as a care option."
While Tampa is the nation’s 11th largest designated market area (DMA) as per Nielsen3, its research centers have conducted less research than other smaller U.S. cities, according to TrialJourney™, a powerful and dynamic platform that helps patients find, choose, and rate their clinical trial experiences. TrialJourney has transformed the national clinical trial database into a user-friendly interface.
Over the past fifteen years, Tampa has conducted less clinical research than smaller cities like Columbus, St. Louis, and Raleigh, and has significantly trailed closely-ranked DMAs such as Boston, Atlanta, and Detroit (ranked 9th, 10th, and 13th by Nielsen, respectively)3 in this department as well1. However, more research has been conducted in Tampa than in several markets with greater populations, such as Cleveland, Orlando, and Portland1,4,5. As can be seen in the map below, the greater Tampa area being referred to includes neighboring cities and towns such as St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Lakeland, Sarasota, and the like.
Cities with comparable volumes of research over the same timespan to Tampa’s include Phoenix (with approximately 9,738), San Diego (with an estimated 9,776), and the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Combined Statistical Area (about 10,699). The latter is a notable comparison since two major academic health systems (Duke and University of North Carolina) reside in Raleigh, both of which dwarf Tampa’s largest academic health system (University of South Florida [USF] Health) when it comes to research1. When you make comparisons based on population size, the pattern is not as clear.
The Moffitt Cancer Center has conducted more research than any other health system in Tampa; last year, its total more than doubled that of the second-most active system, USF Health. The majority of Tampa’s clinical research is concentrated among a small amount of systems; the top five (listed below) accounted for an approximate total of 63.3% of active* research throughout Tampa in 2018.
Further, these five health systems were the only ones in Tampa to have at least 100 active studies in 2018 (though a sixth, Johns Hopkins Health System, was just shy of the mark with an estimated 99). At a more granular level, some of the more active locations (other than the aforementioned) in Tampa include the USF Health Morsani Center for Advanced Healthcare, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, and Florida Cancer Specialists and Research Institute at the St. Anthony’s Professional Building in St. Petersburg1.
Most strikingly, the Magnolia Campus of Moffitt Cancer Center has more than doubled its active research over the span of the past decade, going from estimations of 266 active trials in 2008 to 550 in 2018. This growth is not solely present at the very top, however; there are also several significant alternative clinical sites in Tampa. These refer to sites that are neither independent hospitals nor smaller institutions that are part of major health systems. Thus, these often include specialty practices (either individual or part of a network) and sites dedicated solely to clinical research. Of these, the aforementioned Florida Cancer Specialists and Research Institute location has grown from 14 to 83 active trials conducted, while Clinical Research of West Florida in Clearwater has gone from 12 to 53, Advanced Research Institute from 10 to 44, and Suncoast Clinical Research in New Port Richey from 6 to 30 over the same duration. Among the alternative sites, Forward Clinical Trials has demonstrated particularly notable growth, going from actively conducting a single trial in 2014 to 30 in 20181. While Tampa as a whole is no exception to reflecting the nationwide trend of the steady increase of clinical research (the number of active trials in Tampa has more than doubled over the past decade)1, its alternative sites figure to become even more significant in the future.
Further analyses of the TrialJourney database have also shed light on the current state of the clinical trial landscape in Tampa. At the present moment, there are currently 2,193 active clinical trials in the greater Tampa area. Of this subset of trials, approximately 1,250 (or, 57%) are currently recruiting participants2. The Moffitt Cancer Center is still the most active health system in Tampa by far, with a current total of 649 active clinical trials and 345 recruiting trials (53.2% of its total). This system comprises 30% of Tampa’s active trials and 27.6% of its recruiting trials. The Magnolia Campus alone accounts for 96.5% of Moffitt’s active trials and 94.5% of its recruiting trials, as well as 28.5% and 26.1% of active and recruiting trials in all of Tampa with its current totals of 626 active trials and 326 (52.1% of its total) recruiting trials. Lastly, USF Health makes up 9.8% of Tampa’s active clinical trials and 10.2% of its recruiting trials with its 215 active trials and 128 (59.5% of its total) recruiting2.**
*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.