Being a brain or tissue donor can be a powerful way of making your illness more meaningful by helping others and helpin​g advance the science that may lead to better treatments and cures. If you are interested, please click on the links below for more information or contact the Office of Decedent Affairs at 720-848-4356.


Clinical research refers to any scientific research that works directly with people. This could include research to develop better tests for diagnosing neurologic illnesses, clinical trials of new drugs or therapies, or large-scale implementation studies of new models of care. Taking part in a research study is one of the most unique and powerful gifts people affected by neurologic illnesses can give towards improving care for people who will be affected by their illness in the future. Every test, treatment and therapy we have, from medications to physical therapy, comes to us because of the time and dedication of research volunteers.

At the University of Colorado Supportive and Palliative Care Program, we are broadly interested in pursuing research that will improve the quality and accessibility of patient and family-centered care for persons affected by neurological illnesses. This includes:

  • Mechanistic Studies: We are actively pursuing research to improve our understanding of the causes of difficult to treat symptoms such as fatigue and cognitive dysfunction.
  • Clinical Trials: We are conducting studies to develop and test new treatments and therapies for difficult to treat symptoms such as fatigue and cognitive dysfunction using a wide range of approaches including exercise, medications, brain stimulation and complementary and alternative approaches such as acupuncture, music therapy and meditation.
  • Biomarkers and Outcome Measures: We are conducting research to develop and validate better outcome measures and biomarkers for difficult to treat symptoms. Improved outcome measures (e.g. surveys and scales) will allow us to measure what matters most to patients and improve the quality of clinical trials. Biomarkers (such as new brain scanning techniques) may allow us to diagnose conditions earlier and track the effect of therapies more accurately.
  • Comparative Effectiveness and Health Economics: Comparative effectiveness studies differ from clinical trials in that they are designed to compare two or more currently available therapies under real-world conditions. We are currently comparing the effectiveness of our palliative model of care to current standards of care for Parkinson’s disease and other illnesses in terms of patient and caregiver quality of life. We are also pursuing research to better understand the costs, savings (e.g. less aggressive care near the end of life) and overall value of palliative care for neurologic disorders.
  • Improving Models of Care: We are constantly looking for ways to improve the quality and accessibility of care we provide. To this end we are pursuing studies to better understand the needs and preferences of patients and families, creating checklists and standardized models for clinics so that other institutions can replicate our care, and developing new means of delivering care such as telemedicine.
  • Implementation and Dissemination Studies: As we develop better models of care it is critical that we find ways of putting these models into practice in the community. As an example, we are currently conducting a study of 18 community neurology practices across California, Colorado and Wyoming that will train community neurologists in the fundamentals of palliative care and use telemedicine to provide virtual house calls for team-based services (e.g. social work, chaplain) to their patients.

    For up to date information on our research, please visit our Clinical Trials website​.  For information regarding participation in upcoming research studies, please contact Neurology Research Recruitment at 303-724-4644 or​.

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