Clinical Trials in Pediatrics


“A clinical trial is a research project that involves patients,” says Dr. Antonio Arrieta, a CHOC Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist. “All drugs, vaccines and medical devices have to go through phases of research before they are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. If researchers and physicians don’t conduct these trials, we don’t know how good the drugs are or how we are supposed to use them. The expectation is that these new drugs will be better or improve the established standard of care. The standard of care oftentimes has a lot of room for improvement. We think we can do better. We want to make sure new drugs are safe and that we get the best results. Some trials we have done have introduced new agents that have greatly improved mortality rates and the survival of patients.”


Physicians and researchers conducting clinical trials talk to other physicians at CHOC to identify potential patients to participate. “We make sure they meet the criteria and then talk to the parents to get informed consent,” says Dr. Arrieta. “We discuss the pros and cons of the study and why we are doing it. It’s voluntary and there are no consequences to not participating. We monitor patients closely to make sure the child is responding to treatment or gets better. No procedures are done on children that will increase their pain or discomfort and we can stop a trial with a patient any time the parent wishes.”


  • Average number of peer-reviewed research papers published annually from CHOC’s Infectious Disease Division: 6-7
  • Approximate number of clinical trials underway at CHOC at any given time: 300
  • Approximate number of newborns exposed to HIV in-untero referred to CHOC’s Pediatric HIV Clinic each year: 10

Meet Dr. Arrieta - CHOC Infectious Disease Specialist

Dr. Antonio Arrieta has worked at CHOC since 1991. He is the director of pediatric infectious diseases and director of infectious disease clinical research, and specializes in the treatment of serious community acquired and nosocomial infections. Dr. Arrieta completed his fellowship at UCI Memorial/Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach and his pediatrics residency at Southern Illinois University.

Dr. Arrieta’s philosophy of care: “My most important message for the community is prevention mainly through timely immunization, and also by observing healthy habits and handwashing.”

Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru

Pediatric Infectious Diseases

Dr. Antonio Arrieta

Why Do Research in Children? (Clinical Trial Guidelines)

One or more medications are prescribed at nearly half of all children’s doctor visits in this country yet upwards of 30% of these medicines have not undergone the rigors of clinical testing in children.

Even though pediatricians agree that children and adolescent are not just “mini adults”, the off-label use of adult-approved drugs, adjusted for weight, is common in the treatment in these populations.

Close-up of lab equipment

Infectious Disease Clinical Trials at CHOC

Physician and woman looking at computer screen

Clinical trials involving real patients help doctors and researchers learn the effectiveness of a new drug or medical device, and lead to advancements with potential to improve thousands of lives.

At any time, CHOC staff doctors, nurses and others are involved in about 300 clinical trials in many specialties.

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