Clinical trials and cancer

Why choose Children's Wisconsin for clinical trials?

At Children's Wisconsin, our researchers are dedicated to advancing the care and quality of life for children facing cancer or blood disorders. Whether you've just learned the devastating news of your child’s diagnosis, or your child has been battling their disease for some time, you may be offered the opportunity to take part in a clinical trial.

Participation in research through clinical trials helps researchers understand and test new ways to treat diseases and reduce the side effects of therapies, and may give your child access to new treatment options that are not widely available.

The MACC Fund Center for Cancer & Blood Disorders at Children's offers a comprehensive array of trials for patients with new diagnoses, relapses, refractory and rare diseases, and late effects of cancer treatment. This variety of innovative treatment options, including clinical trials of all phases, is part of our commitment to helping patients and families achieve the best possible outcomes. We are proud to offer early phase treatment options so that families and patients can receive cutting-edge therapies closer to home.

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 MACC Fund Center Infographic

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Our clinical trial team members

Our MACC Fund Center for cancer and blood disorders clinical trials office (CTO) at Children’s Wisconsin is made up of many team members with different roles and skills. You may see some of the team members in the hospital or clinic while others work behind the scenes. 

MACC Fund Center Infographic Clinical Trial Team [Full Size]
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Our research community

Children's Wisconsin Campus Map
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Blood research iconChildren’s Wisconsin has a long-standing partnership with TheBlood Research Institute of the Blood Center of Wisconsin and the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology/Blood and Marrow Transplant Division at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) to conduct innovative research dedicated to benefiting our patients and families.  

MACC Fund iconThe MACC Fund (Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer, Inc.), a Milwaukee based charitable organization, works closely with our Pediatric Hematology/Oncology/Blood and Marrow Transplant Division to fight pediatric cancer and related blood disorders through research funding. Since its inception in 1976, the MACC Fund has contributed over $59 million to pediatric cancer and blood disorder research. This unique and exceptional relationship providers researchers with the resources needed to fight against childhood cancer and related blood disorders.

Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research IconThe Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR) is a "...combined research program of the National Marrow Donor Program and the Medical College of Wisconsin working to collect and study data on blood and bone marrow transplants worldwide. More than 500 international transplant centers collaborate with the CIBMTR to conduct research studies; collect, maintain, and share outcomes data on more than 300,000 transplant recipients; provide statistical expertise to researchers and provide education, guidelines and training." - Medical College of Wisconsin

Children's Research Institute iconThe Children’s Research Institute "...advances state-of-the-art pediatric health care through research, finding life-saving discoveries and cures in the diseases that affect children and developing interventions that enhance quality of life for children and families living with chronic health conditions." - Medical College of Wisconsin

Clinical Immunodiagnostic and Research Laboratory iconThe Clinical Immunodiagnostic and Research Laboratory (CIRL) at the Medical College of Wisconsin provides comprehensive diagnostic services and innovative methods to detect, diagnose, and treat immunologic, hematologic and oncologic diseases. Because of its expertise, this lab processes samples from specialists nationwide. 

Through our extensive research program at Children’s, we participate in research developed by our own investigators as well as by our partners at leading programs across the country and trials through partnership with pharmaceutical companies. In addition, Children’s participates in trials through multiple consortia:


  • The Children’s Oncology Group (COG)
  • Therapeutic Advances in Childhood Leukemia/Lymphoma (TACL)
  • The South Plains Oncology Consortium (SPOC)
  • Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR)
  • National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP)
  • Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Consortium (PBMTC)
  • Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network (BMTCTN)
  • Pediatric Immune Deficiency Treatment Consortium (PIDTC)
  • Midwest Area Research Consortium for Health (MARCH)

Lab research at Children's Wisconsin

Discoveries in the lab help us understand how cancer and blood disorders start and develop. Although lab research doesn’t involve patients directly, it lays the foundation for new treatments. We use this understanding to create different, better ways of treating and curing cancer and blood disorders.
Children’s Wisconsin researchers work in research facilities in affiliation with:

  • Children’s Research Institute on our main campus
  • Blood Research Institute on our main campus
  • Labs of our partners – the Medical College of Wisconsin and Froedtert Hospital

Clinical trials basics

Types of clinical trials

At Children’s Wisconsin our goal is to bring patients new and better cancer treatments through clinical trials. Clinical research involves carefully planned studies that you and your child may choose to participate in if your doctor feels your child is eligible.
While some patients may not directly benefit from being in a research study, they may choose to enroll for the following reasons:

  • Wanting to help others by contributing to medical knowledge
  • Having an illness that has no known effective treatment
  • The trial may offer access to medicines that are not available to the public

There are two main types of studies:

  • Therapeutic trials (treatment related trials) test new medicines and treatments in people to see how well they work and to make sure they are safe.
  • Non-therapeutic trials (quality-of-life/supportive care) collect information about health and behavior. These studies may involve filling out surveys, answering questions, or donating blood or tissue samples for future research.

To understand the goals of the research it is helpful for you to know which “phase” the clinical trial is in. Listed below are basic descriptions of the phases of clinical trials.

Phase 1

Researchers aim to find a safe dose, this is referred to as the Maximum Tolerated Dose (MTD), decide the best way to give the new treatment or medicine and to see how the new treatment or medicine affects the body (side effects). Phase I trials include a small number of patients.

Phase 2

Researchers aim to determine if the new treatment or medicine has an effect on a specific type of cancer and to determine how the new treatment affects the body (side effects). Phase II trials include a larger number of patients than a Phase I study.

Phase 3

Researchers aim to evaluate whether a new treatment or medicine is more effective than an already approved medicine or treatment. Phase III trials involve large groups of patients.

Participating in a Clinical Trial

Taking part in a clinical trial does not prevent your child from getting any other medical treatment he or she may need. Making a decision about participating in a clinical trial can be stressful. Our medical staff is here to answer any questions you may have while making this decision. Your doctor will help you understand the risks, benefits, side effects, tests and costs that may be associated with the study.

Here is a print out of questions you may want to take along to your meeting with your doctor. There is an area to add more questions and to take notes.

Contact us

For more information about cancer and blood disorders clinical trials, email us or call

(414) 955-4727

Get a second opinion

It's important to know what your options are. We can provide expert opinions to verify or give more information about an initial diagnosis. Contact us today.

Why participate in clinical trials?

Michael Burke, MD

"The steady improvement in survival for children with cancer is a direct result of their enrollment onto clinical trials; without which we would remain decades behind in terms of scientific advances in pediatric cancer." ~Michael J. Burke, MD