words by maryann brinley
graduate of Boston University School of Medicine where she earned honors in endocrinology, pathology, pediatrics and anesthesiology, Elizabeth Helfer, MD, believes deeply in her clinical trials work, all sponsored by pharmaceutical companies like Hoffmann-La Roche and Mannkind Corporation. As a principal investigator, this assistant professor of medicine at UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine (SOM) for the past 10 years, has a wide-ranging list of current trials. “One medication raises the HDL levels in patients with recent cardiac events. Another targets blood sugars and weight in people with diabetes and renal insufficiency,” she reports. Another of her studies aims to control sugar and weight in type II diabetics without kidney problems and she is also currently comparing a new weekly injectable medicine for diabetes to an older twice daily regimen of shots. “The number of participants in each trial varies but we recruit from my own as well as other UMDNJ providers and the community.” Clinical trials nurse “Karen Maslowski is my coordinator and she is the best,” Helfer says.
“I participate in these trials to enable patients to take advantage of medications not yet commercially available. Someone who has failed conventional therapy or who is unwilling or unable to take certain medications” will also benefit from clinical trials, according to Helfer.