New CRE supporting innovative trials


The CTC will perform a key role in a newly announced Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) in clinical trials methodology.

In response to a rapidly increasing number of innovative trials designs, the new NHMRC CRE will link leading methods researchers across the country to help enable innovative trial designs and make sure they deliver valuable insights for patients.

In the same funding round, our Health Economics team received funding for looking at ways to increase kidney donors, and to study the effectiveness of melanoma surveillance photography.

Raising the bar

Prof Ian Marschner of the CTC is one of the chief investigators for the new CRE in methodologies that will help enable cutting-edge trial designs and findings.

“Other countries have made significant investments in methodological research, particularly the UK through their MRC Trials Methodology Hubs, but also USA, Canada and Europe,” said Ian. “This CRE will ensure local Australian expertise is keeping pace and taking a leadership role on the international stage.”

The CTC’s A/Prof Chee Lee and A/Prof Mustafa Khasraw are Associate Investigators in the CRE. They will be joined by biostatisticians and methods researchers from the administrative hub at Monash University, as well as at other research institutes in Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane. The CTC is the only NSW-based member of the centre.

Advancing trial methods

With $2.5 million in funding announced in the latest NHMRC funding round, the CRE will focus on two research streams.

  • A trial design stream will look at innovations in designs and ways to maximise outcomes for specific patient groups.
  • Analysis of trial data will look to develop advanced methodology that can be applied to trials across all areas of health research and have a wide-reaching impact on health outcomes.

Of the CRE’s nine slated projects, the CTC will take the lead on two: 1) the design and analysis of multi-stage adaptive trials, and; 2) the analysis of treatment mechanisms and surrogate outcomes, particularly in cancer studies.

Under the CRE, CTC’s methodological research program will be expanded, and further support will be provided to new post-doctoral and PhD research students in the CTC Biostatistics team.

Health Economics grants

A/Prof Rachael Morton and her Health Economics team received two key grants in the latest funding round.

The first is a NHMRC partnership grant for the MODUS study, which is looking at the risk of infections or cancer in kidney donations more closely. The study will test whether giving this information to doctors helps decision making processes and the number of healthy kidneys donated.

“We will calculate risks of infectious disease and cancer transmission from the donor organ to the recipient,” says A/Prof Morton. “We hope the study will better inform decision-making about organ donation and improve transplant outcomes.”

The CTC’s partners on MODUS are NSW Ministry of Health, Kidney Health Australia, and NSW Organ and Tissue Donation Service.

A/Prof Morton will also lead the cost-effectiveness and budget impact components on a study assessing the effectiveness of melanoma surveillance photography in high risk individuals.

The study, led by Monash University, received $2.4 million in funding from the Medical Research Future Fund, and aims to equip MSAC with evidence for better decision making. The University of Queensland is another key study partner.