TrialScout

Houston, TX

The University of Texas MD Anderson Propels Houston into Top 10 for Clinical Trials

Written by Jack Beecher, TrialScout Data Analyst

“The Clinical Trials Landscape is a product of the proprietary database transformation that www.TrialScout.com is based on,” said Dr. Irfan Khan, CEO of Circuit Clinical. “Our goal with this project is to provide patients, providers, and healthcare administrators with new insights that will help them become aware of, understand, and choose clinical research as a care option.” Houston’s clinical trial landscape is mostly defined by the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Network’s tradition of excellence in the clinical trial industry, reflecting its dedication to the advancement of medicine.

Ranked by Nielsen in 2017 as the 8th-largest Designated Market Area in the U.S.3, the Houston Combined Statistical Area (CSA) is the first to crack the top ten metropolitan areas in the United States for clinical trial output as per the TrialScout database1. This region includes nearby cities such as Sugar Land, League City, and Pasadena while extending south to Galveston and north to Huntsville. There have been 17,431 clinical trials conducted in the greater Houston area; while it has outperformed some higher- and similarly-ranked DMAs, such as Dallas (ranked 5th by Nielsen, and having 14,309 trials), Atlanta (ranked 10th by Nielsen, 14,477 trials), and Tampa (ranked 11th by Nielsen, 9,636 trials), it is outpaced by its other most immediate comparable on DMA rank. Washington D.C., ranked 7th by Nielsen, has had 20,087 clinical trials conducted, and Boston (ranked 9th) has 26,7321,3.

Distribution of Clinical Trials per Zip Code1

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Most of these cities, however, have much larger populations than Houston does. The Houston CSA has a population of 5,641,077, compared to Boston’s 8,233,270, D.C.’s 9,765,772, and Atlanta’s 6,551,3365. Having more trials despite a smaller population than Atlanta reflects well upon Houston, and the significant differences between the trial volumes of Houston as opposed to D.C. and Boston is understandable given the large differences in population. On the other hand, the Detroit CSA has a very similar population to that of Houston (5,336,286, about 300,000 fewer in fact), and has roughly 3,500 more trials (20,877). Houston also does not have many comparable cities on the basis of sheer trial volume; the closest would be the Seattle CSA, which has roughly 900 fewer trials than Houston (16,534) and a population about 900,000 residents fewer than Houston’s (4,764,736)1,5.

Clinical Trials in Houston-Baytown-Huntsville CSA (2018)1

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10 Years of the Top 5 Clinical Trial Hospitals in Houston-Baytown-Huntsville CSA (2018)1

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Houston’s clinical trials landscape is largely dominated by the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Network. Of the 4,959 active* clinical trials conducted in Houston last year, this network accounted for 2,001, or 40.4% of the CSA’s total. Following MD Anderson is the Baylor College of Medicine (512 active trials in 2018, 10.3% of Houston’s total), Houston Methodist (392 active trials last year, 7.9% of Houston’s total), Texas Children’s Hospital (334 active trials in 2018, 6.7% of Houston’s total), and the University of Texas Health System (316 active trials in 2018, 6.4% of Houston’s total). Interestingly, despite Houston’s high trial volume, only three additional health systems in the area had more than 100 active trials last year: the University of Texas Medical Branch (188 active trials), the Memorial Hermann Healthcare System (147 active trials), and the Harris Health System (103 active trials). At the individual hospital level, the most active clinical trial location in Houston is, expectedly, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center at the Texas Medical Center. This center had an astonishing 1,885 active clinical trials last year, accounting for 38% of Houston’s active clinical trials in 2018 alone. This is followed by the Baylor College of Medicine Medical Center (404 active trials in 2018), Houston Methodist Hospital (336 active trials last year), Texas Children’s Hospital (331 active trials), and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (312 active trials). Surprisingly, only one additional location in the Houston area (the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston) hit the 100 active trial mark last year (it had 152), and only 21 individual locations throughout Houston had at least 30 active trials1. These figures further accentuate the concentration of Houston’s clinical trials landscape within the top health systems, especially MD Anderson, as there is little depth beyond them.

Over the past decade, Houston has seen steady growth in its trial output, nearly doubling from totals of 2,622 active trials in 2008 to 4,959 last year. Accordingly, MD Anderson at the Texas Medical Center has grown from 1,093 trials in 2008 to last year’s total of 1,885. Several of the other top-performing locations in Houston have also seen notable growth over the same span; both Houston Methodist Hospital (from 171 trials in 2008 to 336 last year) and Texas Children’s Hospital (150 active trials in 2008 to 331 in 2018) have essentially doubled their outputs, and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston has more than doubled (117 trials in 2008 to 312 in 2018). Other locations driving the trial growth in Houston include the Memorial Hermann Hospital at Texas Medical Center (44 active trials in 2008, 96 in 2018), the Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center (22 active trials in 2008, 63 in 2018), the CHI St. Luke’s Health Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center (31 in 2008 to 61 in 2018), the Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital (22 in 2008 to 52 in 2018), and Houston Methodist Research Institute (11 in 2008, 49 in 2018) among others1.

Alternative Clinical Centers in Houston-Baytown-Huntsville CSA (2018)1

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Houston’s alternative clinical trial sites have also seen relatively significant growth over the same period of time. The most active of these sites is Accurate Clinical Research’s location in Houston, which had 53 active trials last year (growing from four in 2008). Following this site are Centex Studies in Houston (with 47 active trials last year, growing from one in 2008), Retina Consultants of Houston at the Texas Medical Center (45 active trials last year, from 18 in 2008), Pioneer Research Solutions (44 active trials last year, from one in 2008), and Texas Oncology’s Memorial City location in Houston (40 active trials in 2018, growing from seven in 2008). Beyond the top five, other alternative sites in Houston with both notable trial volumes and growth patterns include (but are not limited to) DM Clinical Research (growing from a single trial in 2012 to 32 last year), Millennium Physicians in North Houston (a single trial in 2008 to 27 last year), and Inquest Clinical Research (a single trial in 2014 to 25 last year)1.

Current Active Clinical Trials in Houston-Baytown-Huntsville CSA2

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More recent analyses of the TrialScout database indicate that the trends seen in Houston’s clinical trials landscape last year remain largely the same, despite decreases in trial volume across the board. There are currently 5,447 active clinical trials in the Houston CSA; of these studies, 3,015 (55.4%) are recruiting for participation. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Network, of course, is still the most active health system for clinical trials in Houston, with 2,170 currently active trials (1,1782 of them recruiting). The system as a whole currently accounts for 39.8% of active trials and 39.2% of recruiting trials in Houston. Accordingly, MD Anderson’s location at the Texas Medical Center is still, by far, the most active clinical trial site in the Houston area, with 1,987 active trials, and 1,074 (54.1%) of them recruiting. This location alone currently accounts for 91.6% of the network’s active trials, 36.5% of active trials in all of Houston, and 35.6% of the CSA’s recruiting trials.

The Baylor College of Medicine is still the next-most active health system in Houston, with 558 currently active trials. 321 (57.5%) of Baylor’s currently active studies are recruiting, and it accounts for 10.2% of all active trials and 10.6% of all recruiting trials in Houston. Houston Methodist currently has 407 active clinical trials (217, or 53.3%, of which are recruiting); this health system comprises 7.5% of Houston’s active trials and 7.2% of its recruiting trials. The University of Texas Health System is currently the next most active in Houston, with 326 active trials (199, or 61%, recruiting). This system comprises 6% and 6.6% of Houston’s active and recruiting trials, respectively. Finally, Texas Children’s Hospital has a current total of 315 active trials, 207 (65.7%) of which are recruiting, and contributes 5.8% and 6.9% of Houston’s active and recruiting trials to its landscape2.**

On the whole, the Houston CSA is performing well in the clinical trial industry, as most comparable cities that outperform it have larger populations. Houston also appears to be in good position for the future in clinical trials; with MD Anderson leading the way, it is hard not to be.

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 https://clinicaltrials.gov/
  2. Approximate attributable data as per the TrialScout database collapse as of 7/22/2019. All data is derived from https://clinicaltrials.gov/
  3. Lyons Public Relations Broadcast PR Solutions. (2017). 2017 Nielsen DMA rankings – Full list. Retrieved from https://www.lyonspr.com/latest-nielsen-dma-rankings/
  4. 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 https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2018/popest-metro-county.html
  5. 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 https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk

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