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International Clinical Trials Day is celebrated across the world on 20 May to commemorate James Lind’s first controlled clinical trial. Thanks to his research, he was able to show that citrus fruits were a remedy for scurvy and conquer a major health issue of the time.
James Lind’s initial trial laid the foundation for developing new treatments to improve public health issues. In honour of International Clinical Trials Day, we recognise those who conduct clinical trials and thank them for their essential role in advancing our health.
At the University of Sydney, we are proud to be leading the way in clinical trial research. We have over 500 clinical trials in progress at any one time, with around 100 new trials starting each year. The NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre (CTC) is a flagship research organisation currently running studies to improve global health outcomes. CTC researchers work collaboratively with researchers within the FMH, across the University and with clinical networks to advance the quality and effectiveness of research.
We spoke with Director of the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, Professor Meg Jardine, on current research occurring at the CTC and how COVID-19 emphasised the importance of clinical trials.
Since being established in 1988, the CTC has conducted more than 200 clinical trials involving more than 80,000 participants and 800 researchers across the globe.
The CTC is currently recruiting participants to trials looking for:
According to Professor Jardine, successful trials are the result of successful collaborations.
"We are so proud to work with consumers and community members, researchers from throughout the University, our clinical schools, our national and international networks, and particularly with the Collaborative Cancer Trials Groups." - Professor Meg Jardine.
Following James Lind’s original trial in 1747, clinical trials continue to be a crucial part of the development of new medical treatments and diagnostic tests. Without them, we cannot be confident in the effectiveness of treatments or assess the potential harms.
“Clinical trials are a hugely important underpinning of health care. We can all hold educated opinions but, in the end, they’re just guesses if they aren’t supported by trial evidence,” said Professor Jardine.
Professor Jardine believes the key to delivering a successful trial is through utilising partnerships to bring together people with diverse skillsets and experience.
“Trial design and delivery is a science in itself – think about the design, methodology, delivery, analysis, and evaluation of a trial. We especially bring that expertise and partner with people across the University and beyond who bring content expertise. By bringing those components together we’re able to create successful trials which make a difference,” she said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen these partnerships put to the test. However, despite the immense challenges posed to our researchers, including some disrupted systems and shortage of placebos, Professor Jardine is incredibly proud of our researchers’ ability to be agile and adaptive.
“COVID-19 has really shown us the good, the bad and the ugly of our systems,” she explained. “The delivery of vaccines has been far faster than anything before, and that’s been a result of agile responses that leveraged new advances in vaccine development.”
One example of how clinical trials lead to positive health outcomes is the CTC’s Australian Placental Transfusion Study. In the recent two-year follow-up to this award-winning study, researchers found that that aiming to wait just 60 seconds to clamp the umbilical cord of very premature babies at birth continues to have benefits two years on - decreasing the child's risk of death or major disability. Read more >
Celebrations of International Clinical Trials Day are occurring in various forms across the University, which culminate in the Clinical Trials 2022: National Tribute and Awards Ceremony, hosted by the Australian Clinical Trials Alliance.
On a smaller scale, the CTC will continue with a long-standing tradition: sharing oranges!
"For years we have given all the staff an orange as a homage to James Lind’s clinical trial. For us, the day is really about recognising everyone who contributes to clinical trials and saying ‘thank you for everything you do’." - Professor Meg Jardine.