JP man is human guinea pig

December 7, 2012
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Jamaica Plain resident Christopher Gussis, aged 84, has found a new calling in his retirement: human guinea pig.

A former health science teacher, Gussis was volunteering at Harvard-MIT Health Science and Technology several years ago, “because of my background,” he said, “when I got these flyers coming across my desk” for medical research.

He signed up for a study. Then, he told the Gazette, “before you knew it,” his hobby “started to mushroom” as he kept signing up for more and more studies.

Gussis is now up to 269 clinical studies—so far. He’s kept track of every single one. He’s involved with two studies right now, one on reducing stress and another on bones and muscles.

“I find it very interesting,” Gussis said. “They’re trying to improve quality and length of life for seniors and you learn a lot about your body and mind.”

Gussis told the Gazette he would encourage more people to participate in clinical studies.

“People are either worried that they’ll find out there’s something wrong with them or worried that there might be something that might affect their health,” he said.

Subjects are allowed to drop out of studies for a number of reasons. Gussis stopped participating in a study testing drugs to treat pre-cancer lesions when the drugs started making him “woozy,” he said.

The effects did not follow Gussis beyond the study. He noted during his conversation with the Gazette that he had just returned from a swim.

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