Summer Research Program 2020/2021

The CTC aims to improve healthcare and outcomes for Australians and the global community through high-quality research. Our education and training program aim to foster high-quality collaborative clinical trials research across our areas of expertise to improve outcomes for patients worldwide.

Successful students will undertake 8 weeks research internship (unpaid) with our leading academics, providing an opportunity to develop research skills, gain valuable experience and contribute to improving healthcare outcomes. 

Projects are expected to be undertaken on a full-time basis (35 hours per week) over 8 weeks; however, how you achieve this is an arrangement between the student and supervisor. This can be consecutive weeks or in blocks, so long as the total time commitment equates to 40 days or 280 hours. Students are expected to use their own devices (IT equipment) throughout the duration of the summer research program.

We have listed the two projects below for this round; however, projects can be negotiated with the supervisors with you providing a thorough description, aim, and your expected outcomes for your project.

 

Apply online by completing this form by 15 December 2021

Please send any questions to: Rebecca Blain, Admin Support Officer, Rebecca.blain@sydney.edu.au

 

PROJECT 1

Project title: A comparison of trial design characteristics, operations and costs in 2008 and 2018: survey and interviews of trialists in Australia

Supervisors:  Lene Seidler, Melina Willson

Project description: Clinical trials are considered the gold standard for assessing the effectiveness of new treatments. However, it is crucial that trials are large enough (alone or in combination with other similar trials) to detect clinically important treatment effects and recruit the minimum number of participants to reliably answer the research question. Clinical trial registries such as the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR) provide details of certain clinical trial characteristics. For example, from 2006 to 2015, there was a trend towards smaller sample sizes for trials conducted in Australia. The potential reasons for the change could be trial operations and costs, and/or increased precision medicine trials in Australia.

The aim of this project is to assess the trial design characteristics, operations and costs of clinical trials registered in the ANZCTR at two time points that are a decade apart. The project will involve collecting trial details via a survey and/or phone interviews with trialists. It will be co-ordinated by the ANZCTR and the project has the support of Medicines Australia, CT:IQ and the Australia Clinical Trials Alliance (ACTA).

The expected outcomes of this project will help generate a picture of what has changed in the clinical trials landscape over a 10-year period and summarise information on clinical trial start-up times and costs. The project will involve:

·       collecting trial details via a survey and/or phone interviews with trialists,

·       ensuring that information collected is as complete and accurate as possible,

·       reviewing the collated data and proposing methods for synthesis,

·       synthesising the data and,

·       drafting a summary (time permitting)

The results of this project will be submitted for publication. Contribution to this project will be recognized in the form of authorship in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

 

PROJECT 2

Project title: Do trials give us all the answers? Making the best use of trial generated data through on-sharing and re-analyses

Supervisors:  Professor Angela Webster, Dr Lene Seidler

Project description:

Billions of public funding are invested annually in clinical trials, $288 million in Australia alone. People put their trust in science by participating in clinical trials to advance health care. Yet, only about half of all studies publish their results in medical journals, and the ones that are published often do not report all their outcomes, or over emphasise benefits omitting less favourable findings. This means policy and clinical practice risks relying on biased evidence, and not all the evidence.

One solution is to champion data sharing and re-use for subsequent projects and analyses. On-sharing trial data maximises the value of trial investment, by ensuring the data keeps ion contributing to the evidence base beyond the end of the trial. One example is sharing of row-by-row individual participant data (IPD) of completed studies, to enable individual patient data meta analysis. This can add tremendous value to trials, and is increasingly mandated by funders.

In the scientific community, in-principle support for data sharing is strong, however the in-practice commitment to sharing data is low.

This summer research internship will investigate data sharing policies, by establishing a cross-sectional study of the stance of health research funders, institutional review boards, clinical trial registries, peer-reviewed scientific journals and research data repositories to better understand the “landscape” of data sharing. Once completed, we hope this work will contribute to the development of a co-designed data sharing tool-kit which will (a) improve the findability, accessibility, interoperability and reusability of data, (b) enhance the transparency of trial findings and confidence in results and (c) expediate the validation of research (e.g., reproduction and replication through complete re-analysis of data) and synthesis of evidence. By maximizing the implementation of widespread data sharing, we will leverage maximum contribution and minimise research waste and strengthen the public acceptability of data sharing.

As a research intern you will work with a team of expert supervisors. You will learn many useful and transferrable research skills including information management, study design and administration, critical appraisal, database management, data entry and cleaning, data analysis and synthesis and report drafting. The applicant will also develop skills in preparing a manuscript for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The successful applicant who contributes well will be rewarded with co-authorship on any resulting conference presentations or publications. There may be opportunities to develop and extend this topic area into further projects suitable for honours, MD project or MPhil work. Preference will be given to applicants who explain their interest and personal objectives

 

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

1. The candidate must be currently enrolled at the University of Sydney as either an undergraduate student or postgraduate coursework student.

2. Have a strong academic record.

3. Intend to go on to Honours and/or postgraduate study in a related or equivalent field.

4. Australian or New Zealand citizen, holder of an Australian permanent resident or permanent humanitarian visa or an international student.

a. Successful candidates who are not eligible for Medicare must have valid medical and hospital insurance for the period of the CTC Summer Research Scholarship. Proof of cover will be required upon commencement as a condition of eligibility for the project.

5. Have access to a personal device (laptop) for the duration of the program.

6. Willingness to engage in hybrid, flexible work set up, with a combination of work from home and in the office located at the Medical Foundation Building on Parramatta Road, Camperdown.

 

HOW TO APPLY:

Please apply online by completing this form by 15 December 2021. A confirmation receipt will be provided; however, it should be noted that this doesn’t constitute a review of eligibility and/or completeness of the application.

The application includes:

  • Part A – Student Details
  • Part B – Project selected
  • Part C – Addressing the Selection Criteria
  • Part D – Supporting attachments
    • Evidence of health insurance if not covered by Medicare
    • Curriculum Vitae

 

KEY DATES:

Applications close

Wednesday 15 December

Students notified of the outcome

Friday 17 December

Research projects commence by

Jan/Feb 2022

Research projects completed by

March/Apr 2022 or 40 days / 280 hours equivalent

 

Please send any questions to: Rebecca Blain, Admin Support Officer, Rebecca.blain@sydney.edu.au