Edinburgh Clinical Trials Management Course 1-2 December 2016: A remarkably useful two days at the John McIntyre Conference Centre in Edinburgh


This annual course, part of the Edinburgh Education Programme run by Edinburgh Clinical Research Facility (CRF), is for new clinical trial managers. It’s not for someone who is completely new to clinical research, or very experienced in trial management.

The partly interactive training consisted of lectures, workshops and “meet the experts” sessions. In these, likened by one speaker to speed dating, delegates were divided into small groups and rotated round three experts for a short discussion or workshop. In this format questions were encouraged, and we were all more lively for walking around. However, it relied on every session finishing precisely on time, and it worked because timekeeping on this course was tightly managed.

The best bits for me were:

• In the keynote lecture, hearing about the design and project management challenges of the huge EPAD study into prevention of Alzheimer’s, a €64m programme of linked studies using adaptive design and shared placebo groups. Its' director, Prof Craig Ritchie, leads a consortium of industry, academic and patient groups with the University of Edinburgh as sponsor.

• The business model view of a clinical trial presented in Prof Martin Dennis’ lecture, in which patients and site staff are seen as customers.

• The workshop on recruitment and retention led by Prof Shaun Treweek, where two example scenarios made us think about methods for recruiting and retaining contrasting patient populations.

• The risk-based approach to monitoring described by Dr Louise Bowman of CTSU in her lecture.

The only disappointing session was on questionnaire design and data management, where the material was somewhat basic.

All the presenters were well-chosen, engaging speakers. Almost all the delegates were from academic trials, and represented a wide variety of types of study. Networking was, as always, a stimulating and enjoyable secondary element, and was lubricated by the course dinner and pub quiz.

In conclusion, I’ve returned with five good ideas to consider now and ten for the longer term. I would definitely recommend this course if you have some, but not lots, of experience in clinical trials, and you wish to manage, design or monitor trials.