Participating in a Clinical Trial Since Birth

How do you participate in a clinical study even before birth? Meet the adorable Anna Taylor, a 5th grader at the Post Road Elementary School in White Plains. She is on the swim team and likes to play with her friends. Her brother Thomas Taylor, Jr., has had type 1 diabetes (T1D) since he was 8, which qualified his sister to participate in the NIH TRIGR (Trial to Reduce Insulin-dependent Diabetes Mellitus in the Genetically at Risk) Trial, which she has since before she was even born.


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“I was bringing Thomas in for a checkup, at the Berrie Center” said Anna’s mom, Terry Taylor, “and there was material about the TRIGR trial. Not long after that visit I found out I was having Anna. I spoke with our doctor about participating in the TRIGR trial. We had it all arranged that when Anna was born I already had the kit and my husband was able to obtain the necessary research sample (umbilical cord blood) from the obstetrician.

I started bringing Anna to the Berrie Center when was she was 2 months old. Anna continued to be seen every six months for several years and then it switched to once per year. Anna has been participating in the TRIGR Trial for 10 years. This is her last year.”

It is also the TRIGR trial’s last year. “The trial divided two randomized groups to receive different types of formula (one with conventional cow’s milk and one without complex dietary proteins) to see if it reduced the incidence of T1D-related autoantibodies over time, and no clinically significant findings were discovered,” explained Berrie Center Co-director Robin Goland, the J. Merrill Eastman Professor of Clinical Diabetes. Dr. Goland is Principal Investigator at the Berrie Center for the multi-center TRIGR Trial, sponsored by the NIH.

Meanwhile, Anna’s brother is a student at Notre Dame and doing great—and Anna has not developed T1D or positive pancreatic antibodies in her blood that would indicate high risk for development of T1D in the next few years. Instead, at 10, she is fully aware of how important clinical trials are at getting at causes and hopefully cures for chronic disease.  “I did it for my brother,” said Anna, “and to help other people so people with diabetes won’t have to go through what they do for their whole lives.”