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My experience of attending the HRB TMRN 4th Trial Methodology Symposium in Galway

Dr David O Riordan, Senior Pharmacovigilance Officer, at the HRB Clinical Research Facility, Cork blogs about his experience of attending the HRB-TMRN 4th Trial Methodology Symposium in Galway, October 2018.

For the past number of years, the HRB-TMRN have hosted an annual symposium that offers delegates from the four corners of Ireland and beyond an opportunity to delve into the world of Trial Methodology. The symposium hosts a high calibre of speakers and always attracts national and international experts in this field of research. This year, the wonderful city of Galway was selected to host the event. So, on October 11th all roads led to the Salthill hotel for what promised to be a highly informative, engaging and invigorating day.

Upon arrival I was warmly greeted by staff from the hotel and the HBR-TMRN team. I was particularly grateful to Dr Linda Biesty (Midwife and lecturer at NUI Galway) for helping me set up the Clinical Research Facility, Cork (CRF-C) stand that had leaflets and other materials highlighting the services provided by the CRF-C. As it approached 9am, the crowds began to gather in the hotel foyer eagerly awaiting the start of an eventful day. Dr Thomas Conway, HRB-TMRN got proceedings underway by welcoming attendees and outlining the course of events for the day. Dr Darrin Morrissey, CEO of the HRB, provided the opening address. It was very encouraging to hear that the HRB-TMRN “has helped create an increase in the recognition of trial design in the trials community”, describing the network as “highly catalytic”. Following the address, Professor David Richards enlightened everyone about innovative trial methodologies and robust evaluations of interventions. Delegates were particularly impressed when he quoted one of Irelands famous poets, George Bernard Shaw “All professions are conspiracies against the laity”. He highlighted that good science reduces the conspiracy against the laity. Professor Marion Campbell then delivered a very interesting presentation on novel trial designs. She used the “pink sock of evaluation laundry” analogy to highlight selection bias in real world evidence. Then it was the turn of the HRB-TMRN scholars to showcase their work on trial methodology research in Ireland. It was great to hear the presentations from these early career researchers. Professor Deborah Ashby then completed the morning presentations by providing us with her insights on the benefit-risk decision-making in the regulations of medicines.

During lunch I decided to visit the poster stands to check out the research being carried out by the HRB-TMRN summer scholars. It was very refreshing to see the high quality work covering a range of topics being led by these future trialists. The first presentation of the afternoon session was delivered by Matthew Sydes on the application of novel methods in clinical trials. His presentation concluded by suggesting that we need to stop asking how best to use a drug and start asking how best to treat a disease. The distinguished professor Gordon Guyatt then took to the stage. In 1991 he coined the term “Evidence based Medicine” and during his talk he described its important role in research, education and clinical care. Professor Declan Devane then delivered the closing address of the symposium and particularly thanked the organising committee for making the event a huge success.

And so, after an amazing day in Galway it was time for everyone to head home. I left feeling inspired having taken on board all the learnings of the day and equipped to spread the good word on clinical trials and trial methodology. The 5th Trial Methodology symposium will be held in Trinity College Dublin next year and I’m looking forward to it already.


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