A Toronto scientist says recruiting volunteers for his clinical research this year has become so difficult it could put his work in jeopardy.

Dr. David Jenkins, a researcher at St. Michael’s Hospital, needs to recruit 400 volunteers with Type 2 diabetes to test whether diet can prevent health complications. Nearly three months after the group put out advertisements, only 70 volunteers have signed up.

“We put out advertisements, which last year would have pulled in a lot of people. But right now, we only have a trickle,” said Jenkins. “We used to have a flood.”

While there is no scientific explanation for the shortage, there may be a philosophical one: “I think everyone is becoming much busier in their lives,” said Jenkins. “They just don’t have the time to get involved in things outside of work and home.”

The situation has become so bad, he fears he may have to return his $1.75-million grant to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Canola Council of Canada if he can’t get enough volunteers in the time that funders have allotted for the work.

He is worried the lack of volunteers will set medical research and evidence-based medicine back years if such a trend continues.