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Molecules to Medicine: Have You Thanked a Clinical Researcher Today?

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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clinical trials honour rollSeeing a reminder that International Clinical Trials Day will soon occur, I wanted to recognize and thank the clinical research teams and volunteers that make this possible. Clinical research is an enormously complicated endeavor, requiring close cooperation from a number of disparate groups, including sponsors, physicians, nurses, pharmacists, laboratory and radiology staff, regulators, ethics committees, suppliers and the community, in addition to the people providing the infrastructure, such as the basic science researchers, statisticians, and managerial support. Without any of these groups, clinical research would not be possible and there would be no medical innovation leading to new drugs or devices.

Over recent years, clinical trials have become more complex and difficult to complete successfully. Given that it is not as much fun, having more acknowledgment is especially appreciated.

Clinical Trials Day is celebrated on the May 20th each year to commemorate the day in 1747 that James Lind began the first known prospective controlled trial. After reviewing available evidence, James Lind randomized sailors to receive different dietary supplements. He thus established the treatment of scurvy with citrus fruit.

Two groups warrant special recognition. First, the Greater Gift Initiative, through which industry makes donations of vaccines to the GAVI Alliance (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation) and CISCRP (the Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation), which provides a wealth of information to encourage participation in clinical trials and also sponsors the “Everyday Medical Heroes” campaign.

One individual, in particular, Dr. Janelle Bowden, of AccessCR, also deserves special recognition for her work as a remarkable clinical trials advocate.

Janelle Dr. Bowden has long provided a wealth of clinical trial news and education through her original site, AccessCR; Janelle’s newsletters were one of my favorite sources of information and are sorely missed. She also launched the first Clinical Trials Honour Roll in Australia in 2008, to recognize her appreciation for the teams of professionals working in this field. She has run this award program single handedly for 5 years, opening it to international participation last year, in recognition of the fact that many clinical trials are multi-centre, multinational projects.

The Honour Roll accepts nominations from late March to mid May each year, and is announced on May 20th to commemorate International Clinical Trials Day.  Any individual or organization that has made a contribution to clinical trials over the past year is eligible to be nominated, whether that be time, money, knowledge, supplies, etc. The Honour Roll runs on a shoe-string budget, funded through the support of organizations that sponsor their Region or Awards for particular groups in their region.

Those involved in clinical trials are rarely recognized for their efforts, although what they contribute has long lasting impact on humanity as a whole. The Clinical Trials Honour Rolls is an opportunity to rectify that. Why not nominate your clinical trial volunteers, peers and colleagues involved, or the organizations that sponsor, fund or help make clinical trials possible?

My nominee, for her determined advocacy in support of clinical research, is Dr. Janelle Bowden. Please share your nominees here.


Previously in this series:

Molecules to Medicine: Clinical Trials for Beginners
Molecules to Medicine: From Test-Tube to Medicine Chest
Lilly’s Shocker, or the Post-Marketing Blues
Molecules to Medicine: Pharma Trumps HIPAA?
Molecules to Medicine: Should pepper spray be put on (clinical) trial?
Molecules to Medicine: FDA at a Crossroads—a Tough Place to Be
Molecules to Medicine: Plan B: The Tradition of Politics at the FDA
Molecules to Medicine: “Conscience” Clauses versus Refusal: An Historical Perspective
Molecules to Medicine: When Religion Collides with Medical Care: Who Decides What Is Right for You?
A Taste of #TEDMED 2012: Appetizers
A taste of #TEDMED 2012: Main Course

Judy Stone About the Author: Judy Stone, MD is an infectious disease specialist, experienced in conducting clinical research. She is the author of Conducting Clinical Research, the essential guide to the topic. She survived 25 years in solo practice in rural Cumberland, Maryland, and is now broadening her horizons. She particularly loves writing about ethical issues, and tilting at windmills in her advocacy for social justice. As part of her overall desire to save the world when she grows up, she has become especially interested in neglected tropical diseases. When not slaving over hot patients, she can be found playing with photography, friends’ dogs, or in her garden. Follow on Twitter @drjudystone or on her website. Follow on Twitter @drjudystone.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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