Dr. Heather Wakelee

Dr. Heather Wakelee is a judge for this challenge and an Associate Professor of Medicine at Stanford University in the Division of Oncology where she leads the thoracic medical oncology research program.
key insights
  • Accrual rates can fluctuate dramatically. If a large trial is released that many patients are interested in joining, accrual will increase. At the same time, the accrual rate will drop when a large trial closes.
  • When considering changes to accrual rates, one must also consider the capacity of sites to conduct clinical trials. Not all clinical trials or research centers currently have capacity to add more patients due to funding constraints, space constraints, or adequately trained study personnel.
  • In Dr. Wakelee’s opinion, a significant cause of poor accrual rates is a patient’s inability to geographically access clinical trials.
  • The degree of complexity of clinical trial research plays an important role in accrual as well. As trials become more complex, research centers’ accrual capacity may decrease because their staff must spend more time per patient to fulfill the needs of a complex clinical trial. Trials are easier to enroll if they offer treatment that is closer to the current standard of care or have fewer correlates or less complex data needs.