TrialScout

Chicago, IL

Two Academic Health Systems Account for More Than 30% of Clinical Trials in Chicago

Written by Jack Beecher, TrialScout Data Analyst

“The Clinical Trials Landscape is a project that the proprietary database transformation sitting behind www.TrialScout.com has allowed us to create and share,” said Dr. Irfan Khan, CEO of Circuit Clinical. “Our aim with it is to provide new insights to patients, providers, and healthcare administrators that will inform their understanding of clinical research as a care option.” Craig Lipset, Pfizer’s former Head of Clinical Innovation and a current board member of Empirican Group Inc. (which owns Circuit Clinical), added "Pharmaceutical companies rely on large amounts of data to determine the locations at which multi-center clinical trials are conducted. TrialScout’s Clinical Trials Landscape provides information to study planners that will improve this decision-making process and in turn accelerate the development of new medicines." Chicago’s clinical trials landscape is primarily lead by academia, with Northwestern Medicine and University of Chicago Medicine virtually neck-and-neck and leading several other strong options.

Being the U.S.’s third-most populous metropolitan area6 and ranking as its third-largest Designated Market Area (DMA) as per Nielsen4, it should come as no surprise that the Chicago Combined Statistical Area (CSA) is one of the top performers in the country’s clinical trial industry. With a total of 24,610 clinical trials conducted throughout the area since they have been tracked, the Chicago CSA ranks fourth among all metropolitan areas in the country in this department1. While Chicago is outpaced in clinical trial volume by the markets ranked immediately above it (New York City, ranked first by Nielsen, has a total of 54,396 trials and Los Angeles, ranked second, has 43,226), it does outpace those ranked immediately below (Philadelphia, ranked fourth, has 22,308 while Dallas, ranked fifth, has 14,309)1,2,4.

Distribution of Clinical Trials per Zip Code1

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Population totals slightly muddy these waters, but generally also reflect well upon Chicago’s performance in the industry. It is understandable that the trial volumes of New York City and Los Angeles stand where they do in relation to that of Chicago. New York City’s trial output more than doubles Chicago’s, but so does its population (23,876,155 residents versus Chicago’s 9,901,356). Meanwhile, Los Angeles’ trial volume is roughly 21,000 greater than Chicago’s, but its population is about nine million greater than that of Chicago (18,764,814 residents). Additionally, the Dallas CSA has a significantly smaller trial volume than Chicago despite a slightly larger population (7,847,110 residents). However, while Philadelphia’s clinical trial output is less than that of Chicago, its population is also smaller (7,206,807 residents). Further, more trials have been conducted in the Boston CSA (26,732) than in Chicago despite a smaller population (8,233,270 residents)1,5. For another favorable comparison, the Chicago CSA has a very similar population to the Washington D.C. CSA (which has 9,765,772 residents) but has conducted more trials (20,087 in D.C.)1,6.

Clinical Trials in Chicago-Naperville-Michigan City CSA (2018)1

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10 Years of the Top 5 Clinical Trial Hospitals in Chicago-Naperville-Michigan City CSA (2018)1

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The top health system in the greater Chicago area for clinical trial activity is Northwestern Medicine; in 2018, a total of 1,282 active* clinical trials were conducted across this system’s Chicago facilities, which comprised 20.5% of all active trials in the CSA last year. Not far behind, however, is University of Chicago Medicine, which had 1,124 active clinical trials last year (18% of Chicago’s total). Following these two systems are the Rush System for Health (668 active trials in 2018, 10.7% of all in Chicago), NorthShore University Health System (333 active trials last year, 5.3% of all in Chicago), and the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago (324 active trials in 2018, 5.2%)1.

Despite its health system ranking second for 2018 clinical trial activity in the greater Chicago area, the University of Chicago Medical Center was its single-most active location; this medical center had 967 active trials last year, accounting for 86% of University of Chicago Medicine’s active trials as well as 15.5% of the entire CSA’s active trials alone. Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine was the second-most active location in Chicago, with 674 active clinical trials in 2018. Following these are Rush University Medical Center (533 active trials), Northwestern Memorial Hospital (310 active trials), and the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital (290 active trials). Interestingly, three additional hospitals in the Chicago CSA had over 200 active clinical trials last year, but these were also the only locations other than the aforementioned five to conduct at least 100. These hospitals are the Loyola University Medical Center (255 active trials), Evanston Hospital (211 active trials), and the University of Illinois Hospital (201 active trials). However, a total of 39 different locations in the greater Chicago area had at least 30 active clinical trials last year1.

The Chicago CSA as a whole has seen somewhat notable growth in active trial output over the past decade, in line with most markets discussed in the Clinical Trials Landscape Series. In 2008, there were 4,195 active clinical trials in the greater Chicago area, and this increased to a 2018 total of 6,239. Interestingly, about half of this growth appears to have occurred between 2008 and 2011; the active trial volume of the CSA increased from the aforementioned 2008 total to 5,264 in 2011. The most demonstrated instance of growth among individual locations in Chicago is seen for the Feinberg School of Medicine, which had a growth of 421 active trials over the past 10 years (from 253 active trials in 2008 to 674 in 2018). The University of Chicago Medical Center is right on Feinberg’s heels, however, with a growth of 400 active trials over the same period (567 in 2008 to 967 in 2018). In accordance with these two, the most significant growth patterns are seen for Chicago’s top hospitals for 2018 clinical trial activity. The Rush University Medical Center has grown from 277 active trials in 2008 to 533 in 2018, Northwestern Memorial Hospital from 139 active trials in 2008 to 297 last year, Lurie Children’s Hospital from 164 in 2008 to 290 in 2018, and Loyola University Medical Center from 128 in 2008 to 255 last year. Including the above, a total of 21 locations in the Chicago CSA have seen growth of at least 30 active trials over the past ten years; additional ones include the University of Illinois Hospital (113 in 2008 to 201 in 2018), Evanston Hospital (125 in 2008 to 211 in 2018), the Rush Copley Healthcare Center (a single active trial in 2008 to 53 in 2018), and the Vince Lombardi Cancer Clinic in Kenosha, Wisconsin (three active trials in 2008 to 50 last year) among others1.

Alternative Clinical Centers in Chicago-Naperville-Michigan City CSA (2018)1

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Outside of large health systems, Chicago has some alternative clinical trial sites that are relatively notable pieces of its clinical trials landscape, though figures of change over time for them are mixed. The most active of these sites in the greater Chicago area in 2018 was the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, which had 55 active clinical trials last year (from 18 in 2008). Close behind was Illinois Cancer Specialists’ location in Niles, with 52 active trials last year (from 11 in 2008). The top five is rounded out by Joliet Oncology-Hematology Associates’ Main Office (49 active trials in 2018, decreasing from 133 in 2008), North Shore Oncology-Hematology Associates in Libertyville (37 active trials in 2018, only one less than its 2008 total), and Hematology Oncology Associates of Illinois in Skokie (36 active trials last year, decreasing from 40 in 2008). Beyond these, other notable alternative clinical trial sites in the CSA include Great Lakes Clinical Trials in Chicago (33 active trials last year, growing from four in 2014), Hematology Oncology Associates of Illinois at Northwestern Memorial Hospital (31 active trials last year, decreasing from 60 in 2008), and the Michiana Hematology Oncology Advanced Center for Cancer Care in Westville, Indiana (25 active trials in 2018, from 16 in 2008) among others1.

Current Active Clinical Trials in Chicago-Naperville-Michigan City CSA2

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More recent analyses of the TrialScout database show that there are 8,029 active clinical trials in the Chicago CSA currently; of these, 3,670 (45.7%) are recruiting for participation. These analyses also indicate that Northwestern Medicine and University of Chicago Medicine are still the primary clinical trial providers in the area. Northwestern is still the most active health system in Chicago, with 1,434 currently active clinical trials (766, or 53.4%, of which are recruiting); this system accounts for 17.9% of Chicago’s active trials as well as 20.9% of its recruiting trials. University of Chicago Medicine remains close behind with 1,299 currently active clinical trials (684, or 52.7%, of which are recruiting), accounting for 16.2% of active trials in Chicago and 18.6% of its recruiting trials. Another trend that has remained consistent is that the University of Chicago Medical Center is still the top individual location in the greater Chicago area for clinical trials; with 1,040 currently active trials (and 561, or 53.9%, of them recruiting), this medical center comprises 80.1% of the University’s active trials and 82% of its recruiting trials, as well as 13% and 15.3% of active and recruiting trials respectively in the entire CSA alone.

The Rush System for Health is still the third-most active health system in Chicago, with a current total of 827 active trials (443, or 53.6%, of which are recruiting). Rush currently accounts for 10.3% of active trials in Chicago and 12.1% of its recruiting trials. NorthShore University Health System has a current total of 483 active clinical trials (237, or 49.1%, of which are recruiting), making up 6% and 6.5% of active and recruiting trials in Chicago, respectively. Lurie Children’s Hospital currently has 328 active clinical trials (208, or 63.4%, recruiting), accounting for 4.1% of active trials in the Chicago area and 5.7% of its recruiting trials. Also of note in Chicago’s current clinical trials landscape are the contributions of the Loyola University Health System (401 active trials, 191 of them recruiting) and Advocate Health Care (366 active trials, 141 of them recruiting)2.

Chicago has historically been one of the metropolitan areas in the U.S. with the highest level of performance in the clinical trial industry, and it does not appear that this is going to change anytime soon. Chicago’s performance is favorable when compared to those of other cities, and while it may not be demonstrating growth as pronounced as that of others, it is primed for success in the future on the heels of its universities.

To follow the clinical trial landscape series, visit the TrialScout Clinical Trials Landscape



*Active in 2018 = Active at any point in 2018 (Start date of study is before 12/31/2018 and end date is after 1/1/2018)

  1. Approximate attributable data as per the TrialScout database collapse as of 4/11/2019. All data is derived from clinicaltrials.gov
  2. Approximate attributable data as per the TrialScout database collapse as of 7/29/2019. All data is derived from clinicaltrials.gov
  3. Approximate attributable data as per the TrialScout database collapse as of 8/19/2019. All data is derived from clinicaltrials.gov
  4. Lyons Public Relations Broadcast PR Solutions. (2017). 2017 Nielsen DMA rankings – Full list. Retrieved from Lyons PR
  5. U.S. Census Bureau. (2018) New Census Bureau population estimates show Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington has the largest growth in the United States. Retrieved from Census.gov
  6. U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. (2019). Annual estimates of the resident population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2018 – United States – Combined statistical area; and for Puerto Rico. Retrieved from Factfinder.Census.gov

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