Pre-COVID: Recognizing the Value of Clinical Research

Jen recognized the power of clinical research long before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. When her son was born, she immediately signed him up to be in the University of Washington’s study database as a healthy participant. Occasionally she was notified about studies he could participate in and when something seemed like a fit, they jumped at the opportunity.

In total, her son participated in three studies. Jen was more than happy to help manage his experience and coordinate appointments knowing that they were making a meaningful contribution for others down the line.

Little did she know, Jen would later take part herself in what is sure to be one of the most historic and important trials in history.

The COVID Craze Begins: A Life-Changing Facebook Post

Seattle being one of the first cities hit by COVID-19, Jen was thrust into the COVID craze early on. Like most of us, she followed the news closely and researched as much as she could to better understand what we as a society were coming up against.

While perusing Facebook, Jen came across a post from a friend with a call to action that caught her eye: Kaiser Permanente was looking for healthy volunteers to join a COVID-19 clinical trial for the investigational vaccine mRNA-1273.  

According to an article written by the NIH on the Seattle-based enrollment effort by Kaiser Permanente, mRNA-1273, an investigational vaccine developed using the mRNA genetic platform, was ready to begin human testing.

Jen immediately thought: “Whoa, there’s something that I could do!”

She filled out the form to see if she could be a match and just a few days later while at dinner with a friend, Jen received a phone call from a number she didn’t recognize. It was Kaiser calling to get her enrolled. After a quick review of her health history, she went in the next day for a physical exam. She was cleared to participate and a week later went in for the first dose.

Giving Something Back

When asked if Jen was scared to be the first patient receiving a vaccine never tested on humans, her answer was a powerful one.

“No. But not because I am super strong, but because I wanted to be able to give something back and contribute in some way. I have a lot of privilege in my life. I recognize the privilege I have and I want to be able to use it to help others. A lot of people can't do something like what I'm doing. They couldn't potentially take time off work or be healthy enough to participate or just be able to take this kind of a risk. I'm thinking a lot of people have a lot more important things on their plate that they're worrying about right now. And I don't have a lot that I'm worrying about. I'm pretty well taken care of here. And so let me do this to help out.”
“I’m a really trusting person. I have a very positive outlook on life...things work out. I read the 25 page informed consent release. I read every word. And sure there’s some scary potentials in there and of course it’s never been tested on humans before. But there are a lot of good people working towards a good thing here. All with the best intentions. And scientists are smart people!”

A True Hero

A few weeks before Team Clara interviewed Jen, we interviewed one of our trusted Patient Advisors and autoimmune advocate Anna Legassie about her experience living in a COVID-19 world as an immunocompromised patient. When asked what she would say to healthy people about participating in a COVID-19 trial, Anna, unaware we would be speaking to Jen just a few weeks after her, spoke about what Jen’s trial participation meant to her:

“You have the chance to be a hero, truly a hero. I keep thinking back to that picture of the first person in the world to receive a trial coronavirus vaccine - here’s this woman in her 40s, healthy mother of two, sitting there getting the shot in the arm. Every time I look at it, I just start crying. That woman said ‘I’m safe, I’m healthy. I can do this. Why wouldn't I do it?”

A Call to Action

There are over 1,000 clinical trials and research studies racing to develop vaccines, treatments, testing, and beyond to end this pandemic. You have the power to contribute to this effort.

Here’s what Jen had to say when we asked her what she would say to someone considering participating:

“You can do it. It’s such a rewarding experience to be able to have an impact. When we all feel helpless, it really is powerful to feel like you can help get us closer to a solution. Really think about if you are in a place where you could do something like this. Do it for those that can't.”

We need more heroes! Team Clara is urging you to be like Jen and consider contributing to what is sure to be a once in a lifetime opportunity to save millions of lives. Learn more at