• Patient seeks to give back by participating in clinical trials to advance research

Mark Lewis is an advocate for participating in clinical trials. As a person who is immunocompromised and has been a Mayo Clinic patient for decades, he hopes to inspire others to join clinical trials for "the greater good."

Lewis has lived with Crohn's disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) marked by inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract, since he was in high school in the mid-1970s. He's struggled with debilitating symptoms. Now, he's come a long way, learning to manage his symptoms and lead a healthier life. He says research and education were a big part of his journey.

Along the way, Mayo Clinic physician and researcher Francis Farraye, M.D., a gastroenterologist specializing in IBD, asked Lewis if he was interested in joining a clinical trial focused on Crohn's disease. Lewis was all in. Now he encourages people to be part of research that advances medicine into the future.

Watch: Here's his story in his own words.

"Hi. I'm Mark Lewis and I participated in a clinical trial here at Mayo Clinic. And I gave blood that would look at how the COVID vaccine reacted with people that had compromised immune systems that had Crohn's disease, if you will. And we're on immunosuppressant drugs to see how that vaccine helped them and protected them from COVID. I think it's always good to be part of something bigger than yourself. For me personally, participating in clinical trials is important. To me. It's fascinating journey. I think anything that I can contribute to it going forward, helps people understand and maybe someday they can find out what the real cause of Crohn's disease and I would advise other people who might be considering a clinical trial here at Mayo to participate. I think that it's non evasive. I mean, giving blood if that's the extent of it is not a big deal for people. And it's just a question of having to give some of your time and that time and those labs and that blood could be monumental in the health of their research going forward. Mayo has a great program of research, I have always wanted to be able to participate and give back. They've given a lot to me and helping me get through my journey and struggle with this disease. I think overall, anytime it can be a collaborative effort between patient doctor and research, it benefits everybody. And I think that that's why more people need to contribute and help with these research studies."

More information

Learn more about the clinical trial journey, including the phases of clinical trials and how trials bridge the gap between laboratory research and patient care. Also, learn what happens before clinical trials begin, starting with scientific discovery in the lab that evolves into an experimental treatment ready to be tested in human research participants.

This article first appeared on the Discovery's Edge blog.

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