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Excell Research is currently conducting clinical research studies for the treatment of a variety of conditions, including depression. Courtesy photo
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Oceanside clinical trials offer hope to frustrated patients

San Diego residents suffering from a variety of medical challenges, from depression to fibromyalgia, have found hope and healing by participating in local clinical trials. They’re among the first to try groundbreaking new experimental medications being tested at regional labs — and the first to potentially benefit.

What are Clinical Trials?

Clinical trials are pharmaceutical-funded research efforts carried out at clinical facilities to determine the efficacy and side effects of new, experimental medications such as those in the search for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Oceanside’s Excell Research Institute, founded in 2004 by lifelong friends Dr. Sherry Soefje and Dr. Jelena Kunovac, both psychiatrists with over 25 years of research experience, is one such research facility dedicated to improving the lives of patients through safe and effective medication therapies.

This woman-owned clinical research facility conducts ongoing trials into a variety of disorders, such as depression, schizophrenia, fibromyalgia, post-traumatic stress disorder, post-menopausal hot flashes, Alzheimer’s disease, borderline personality disorder, OCD, bi-polar disorder, postpartum depression, migraines, and insomnia.

With studies open anywhere from six months to two years, new studies continually beginning, and studies for conditions like depression and schizophrenia ongoing, there are many opportunities to participate.

Benefits of Participating in Clinical Trials

For people who’ve tried other unsuccessful treatments, or without health insurance, this is a chance to receive free cutting-edge experimental medications, financial compensation for every visit, and possibly free blood tests, MRIs, CT scans and transportation assistance.

“It’s more than free,” says Dr. Soefje, “because they’re being altruistic, giving back to science, and helping to create treatments that could help their children and grandchildren.”

Excell has distinguished itself with excellent research and a uniquely welcoming environment for hopeful patients in the San Diego area.

“People like to continue working with us because of their positive experience,” says Dr. Soefje. “They’re often surprised to walk into our award-winning, comfortable facility instead of a clinical chemistry lab. Our small staff and slower pace also give candidates and participants more face-to-face time with clinicians.”

Clinical Trial Risks

Successful clinical studies are controlled for a placebo effect which is when the results of a medication are impacted by the  expectation that it will be effective. Controlling these studies means that not all participants  will receive active medication.

Symptoms for placebo group participants could remain the same or worsen. The risk of side effects is also higher for those taking the active medication. For many participants, the possibility of relief from their condition, and the financial and altruistic benefits, are worth the risk.

Who’s Eligible?

Ideal candidates are generally healthy San Diego-area adults (there’s no upper age limit) with disorder symptoms who are willing to take medication and attend five or more in-person visits.

“We have several studies for people for whom nothing else has worked or with disorders for which there isn’t a treatment, such as postpartum depression, borderline personality disorder and hot flashes for post-menopausal women. Our all-female clinicians are a highly-valued resource among our female participants,” Dr. Soefje notes.

They also provide three months of aftercare with free access to a psychiatrist and often affordable post-trial medication.

What to Expect

Intake begins by calling to speak personally with one of Excell’s staff members. After a brief eligibility intake, callers can ask any questions they have. Consent forms with all the study information are then completed followed by an in-office visit. Excell then submits the candidate’s information to the sponsoring pharmaceutical company and awaits final approval.

To learn more about how you could benefit from participating in a clinical trial, call (760) 758-2222 or visit