When John signed up to participate in his first clinical trial, he figured it would be just that one time. But he so enjoyed the sense of community, and being of service, that he participated in many clinical trials as a healthy volunteer.

John knew a number of people who had volunteered in clinical trials sponsored by local pharmaceutical companies. But he hadn’t considered it himself until he learned about one aimed at helping people living with post-traumatic stress disorder. After that first clinical trial, John has gone on to participate in 11 Phase 1 healthy volunteer Pfizer trials, as well as trials sponsored by other companies.

One memorable study focused on sickle cell disease—a topic that’s important to John, because it disproportionately impacts Black communities. By participating in these trials, he says he likes knowing that he’s helping to advance science, even as he enjoys the experience, himself.


Early on, John learned about a Pfizer study in New Haven, CT. The Pfizer trial was what’s known as a Phase 1 healthy volunteer clinical trial. These trials often involve participants who don’t have the disease or condition that will later be studied in Phase 2 and 3 clinical trials. This phase typically assesses the safety of a study medicine or study vaccine and helps researchers understand how the body will react to different doses.

Volunteering for a Phase 1 study can involve staying overnight at Pfizer’s Clinical Research Unit in New Haven for an average of one to three weeks. For John, that time felt like a break from the daily grind. He stayed at the facility with a group of other participants for a couple of weeks, and, after getting past the initial nervousness, he made new friends.

Pfizer New Haven Clinical Research Unit
Pfizer New Haven Clinical Research Unit

When he wasn’t undergoing tests or observation, he hung out in the game room playing pool and video games, or watched movies in the TV room. He thought to himself, “I’ll come back,” and that’s just what he’s done.

Along the way, he’s learned about different medical conditions. That has inspired him to focus more on exercising and improving his diet and lifestyle. “I’m more conscious of what I have to do to keep myself healthy and to try to avoid getting some of the illnesses that are brought on by the way you live,” he says.

He’s also gained a new kind of faith in the work of medical research. If he ever needs help, he trusts that it’ll be there—thanks, in part, to clinical trial participants like himself. “I got into it to pay my rent, and realized that I was also helping others,” he says.

Participating in a clinical trial is a personal decision that includes risks. On-site research staff will answer any questions you have about participation. If you would like to know more, visit:

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