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Research Center Profile:
Banner Sun Health Research Institute

Therapeutic Areas

Cardiology/Vascular Diseases

Center Overview

Banner Sun Health Research Institute is located in the Sun Cities area of metro Phoenix, one of the world's most concentrated geriatric communities, with an estimated 100,000 retirees in the immediate area. There are more than 300,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Maricopa County alone. This is an educated population base that realizes the need for medical research and has the motivation to get involved.

The residents provide an enormous pool of potential participants in the many clinical trials on-going at the Institute's Cleo Roberts Center for Clinical Research. Most of the residents hold an allegiance to the Institute's affiliate, the Banner Health network, and that faithfulness is reflected in the numbers of residents who are involved in the Institute's efforts.

More than 1409 have donated their brains to the Institute's Brain and Body Donation Program, one of the nation's largest repositories of brain tissue. Another 1000 are living participants in the brain donation program. The Institute has a strong record of performance in clinical research. For example, the Cleo Roberts Center was the national leader in recruitment, quality control, accuracy and performance in the ADAPT (Alzheimer's Disease Anti-Inflammatory Prevention Trial) study, with more than 527 participants enrolled. In addition, hundreds of subjects are involved in clinical trials in such disciplines as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease at the Cleo Roberts Center.

The study sponsors cited the Institute's strong performance in clinical trials to include exceptional audits, outstanding monitor reports and successful enrollment. These are attributed to an excellent infrastructure, experienced study coordinators and accurate data collection. The Cleo Roberts Center staff includes physicians, neuropsychologists, psychometrists, nurse coordinators, minority recruitment and other ancillary staff.

Founded in 1986, the non-profit Institute has earned an international reputation for breakthroughs for some of the most debilitating age-related diseases affecting seniors. Its scientists and researchers have had a significant impact on developing effective treatments and prevention for diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and arthritis and have a record of investigator-initiated studies.

Clinical Research Experience

The Banner Sun Health Research Institute conducts clinical trials in Neurology and Cardiology.

We have worked with the following sponsors:

  • Abbot
  • AstraZeneca
  • Boeringher Ingelheim
  • Eisai/Pfizer
  • Elan
  • Forest
  • GlaxoSmithKline Neuroscience Hub
  • Merck
  • Myriad
  • Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp.
  • Parke-Davis
  • Pfizer Inc.
  • Provista Life Sciences
  • Schering-Plough
  • Southwest Oncology Group.
  • UpJohn Co Pharmacyclis, Inc.
  • Voyager Pharmaceuticals Corp.
  • Pacira Pharmaceuticals
  • Medacta USA
  • Wyeth
  • Corin USA
  • Biomet
  • Stryker, Inc
  • Smith & Nephew
  • VQ Orthocare
  • Depuy-Mitek
  • Arthrex
  • Exactech
  • Orthopaedic Research and Educational Foundation

Facility Description

Researchers have access to the affiliate Sun Health's latest in medical equipment, including a 16-slice CT scanner, MRI, PET/CT and digital R&F.

Investigator Experience

Marwan N. Sabbagh, MD, FAAN, CCRI

Dr. Marwan Sabbagh is the founding director of the Cleo Roberts Center for Clinical Research and newly appointed Director of the Sun Health Research Institute. Opened in 2000, the Center, with Dr. Sabbagh as the principle investigator, has conducted numerous clinical trials for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, as well as prostate cancer and arthritis. Dr. Sabbagh, a board-certified neurologist, received his medical degree from the University of Arizona. He is also the Associate Director of the Arizona Alzheimer's Disease Core Center, a clinical instructor in the Banner Health/St. Joseph's Hospitals Geriatric Fellowship Program, clinical assistant professor of neurosciences at the University of California-San Diego and a visiting scientist in the Department of Neurology at Mayo Clinic Scottsdale. Dr. Sabbagh served his residency in neurology at Baylor College of Medicine and a fellowship in geriatric neurology and dementia at the UC-SD School of Medicine. Dr. Sabbagh has also authored the book The Alzheimer’s Answer published by Wiley Press and Co-authored Pallative Care for Advanced Alzheimer’s and Dementia by Springer Publishing Company.

Holly Shill, MD

Dr. Holly Shill grew up in Tempe, Arizona. She did her undergraduate work in electrical engineering at University of Arizona in Tucson, followed by four years of medical school there. She completed a neurology residency at Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) in Phoenix, AZ. Following that, she spent three years as a clinical fellow in the Human Motor Control Section at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.

Dr. Shill is currently head of the Thomas H. Christopher Center for Parkinson's Research at the Banner Sun Health Research Institute. She devotes 60 percent of her time to treating patients with Parkinson's related movement disorders and 40 percent to research. Dr. Shill's research interests also include developing models to better predict who gets Parkinson's disease and Parkinson's disease related dementia. Dr. Shill actively educates physicians currently enrolled in the Banner Health/St. Joseph's Geriatric Fellowship program and presents informational lectures to the community.

Sandra A Jacobson, MD

Dr. Jacobson is a geriatric neuropsychiatrist. She received her medical degree from the University of Hawaii Manoa School of Medicine. Her postgraduate training led her to the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute for her residency and fellowship. Outside of the clinic she serves as a professor of psychology at Arizona State University. With Dr. Jacobson’s addition to the Research Institute we are interested in participating in clinical trials related to the following areas: geriatric depression, fibromyalgia, anxiety, sleep disorder and other pain-related conditions. Dr. Jacobson has Co-authored Clinical Manual of Geriatric Psychophamacology by American Psychiatric Publishing Inc. and Laboratory Medicine in Psychiatry and Behavioral Science.

Staff Expertise

Clinical Research Center Staff Expertise

The expertise of our staff reflects the intense focus of our research on a range of diseases including dementia, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, hypertension, arthritis, fibromyalgia and cancer.

In addition, the shared administrative staff at the Institute includes:

  • 1 Senior Administrator
  • 4 Contracts/Grants Manager
  • 2 Regulatory Specialist
  • 2 Accountants
  • 2 Human Resources Specialist
  • 5 legal specialists

Patient Demographics

Sun Health Research Institute is located in one of the most senior-populated areas of the nation. An estimated 100,000 residents of the Sun Cities and other retirement communities make up a population that is educated and understands the needs and the importance of research. More than 1,500 have donated their brains to the Institute's Brain Bank, one of the largest repositories for human brain tissue in the country. Hundreds more have volunteered for the many clinical trials at the Cleo Roberts Center for Clinical Research.

Other Information

Banner Sun Health Research Institute utilizes The Western Institutional Review Board (WIRB) primarily. Banner Research also has an Institutional IRB consisting of two panels that may be accessed as well.. Banner Research does function under a federal wide assurance. All clinical staff are human subjects certified by NIH and have ICH-GCP training and certification.

Contact Center

If you are interested in contacting this center to discuss placing a clinical trial there, please complete and send the email form below. A representative from the research center will then follow up with you.

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