To mark the 100th anniversary of the UK's Medical Research Council, Quentin Cooper from BBC Radio 4 was joined by Andrew Nunn to reflect on the first properly randomised controlled trial, published in 1948. The trial, designed by Sir Austin Bradford Hill of the MRC, assessed whether streptomycin was more effective than bed rest in the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis.
This started a change from opinion-based to evidence-based medicine. Since then randomised trials have been conducted in a wide range of diseases leading to major breakthroughs in treatment.
The MRC CTU are still at the forefront on improving trial designs, including developing the multi-arm, multi-stage trial design that helps to speed up the process of identifying which drugs work.
Listen to the episode of Material World on the BBC iPlayer