100 days in the Robertson Centre: John Petrie reflects

An update from Professor John Petrie, Director of the Robertson Centre for Biostatistics and the Glasgow Clinical Trials Unit, as he passes the milestone of 100 days in post...

University of Glasgow cloisters and trees

As I pass my first 100 days as Director of the Robertson Centre and Glasgow Clinical Trials Unit, it’s time to check in.

A big highlight for me was the Glasgow Clinical Trials Forum (09 September 2022). This was a truly interactive morning of back and forth discussions, well attended by researchers around the city. 

The first 100 days is going to be important, but it's probably the first 1,000 days that makes the difference (Barack Obama, 2009)

Many thanks to all from RCB who were involved in planning and organising – you know who you are!

It’s clear that there are so many committed people working hard on trials and other research around the city.   Ongoing events such as the Forum will be a great way of bringing people together, sharing experience and knowledge of support available, including from the Robertson Centre. 

A key message from the keynote speaker Matt Sydes, Professor of Clinical Trials and Methodology at the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at University College London, was the value of sharing lessons learned in the process of conducting clinical trials via presentations and publications (including in the journal Trials). 

The problems we face in daily work on clinical trials can seem unique to us.  Once we have overcome them we may want to just put them behind us – but putting how we solved them into the public domain can help someone else in the future.  It can also help to create momentum to improve processes at an institutional (or even regulatory) level and shape guidance on best practice.

Another highlight was the 6th International Clinical Trials Methodology Conference (ICTMC) in Harrogate (03–06 October 2022). This was a great opportunity to network with the UK clinical trials community – and for me in particular with other CTU Directors from leading centres. Many of the abstract titles were In keeping with the message above e.g.

  • Using a study within a trial (SWAT) to increase recruitment and retention
  • Developing guidance for eConsent
  • How are safety data reported in publications?
  • Can patient and public involvement (PPI) representatives serve as independent members on Data Monitoring Committees?

Going forward, I'd like to encourage all members of staff involved in clinical trials to think creatively about methodological aspects of their work that could be shared more widely in conferences and publications. Such activities are very much in tune with the wider College of MVLS strategy and the new Glasgow Collaborative Trials Centre.

Prof John Petrie
Director, Robertson Centre for Biostatistics and Glasgow Clinical Trials Unit

First published: 1 November 2022

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