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Why do clinical trials matter? Join our Twitter Q&A

06 May 2015

UPDATE 28 May 2015:   Read our 'Storify' to follow what was said in our International Clinical Trials Day Q&A. 


To mark International Clinical Trials Day on Wednesday 20 May 2015, the MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL will be running a Twitter Q&A session.  We will have four panellists ready and waiting to answer your questions, and hear your thoughts on, the theme of 'Why do clinical trials matter?'

Our panel:

Our panellists have a wealth of experience in clinical trials, and includes patient representatives, a doctor and a statistician. Their experience covers both HIV and cancer trials. They are all actively involved in running clinical trials and concerned with improving how clinical trials are run, and are keen to hear your thoughts on what makes clinical trials important.

Read more about each panellist below:


Image of Ben CromartyBen Cromarty, Patient Representative and member of the MRC CTU at UCL PPI group

Ben was diagnosed HIV positive in 2000 and, as is often the case, was diagnosed late with pneumonia and hospitalised. Whilst in hospital, he was greatly helped by his local HIV support group, North Yorkshire AIDS Action (NYAA). After recovering from his acute illness, Ben began to volunteer for NYAA, taking a particular interest in HIV treatment and treatment-related issues. He joined and subsequently chaired the UK Community Advisory Board (UK-CAB) for HIV, and sat on several British HIV Association (BHIVA) committees and writing groups as a community representative. He was also the community representative on the Trial Steering Group for the PIVOT study, a large UK-based HIV trial. He joined the MRC CTU at UCL Patient and Public Involvement Group and has been actively involved in a number of projects, including improving trial Patient Information Sheets.


Image of Sheena McCormackSheena McCormack, Clinician and HIV researcher

Professor Sheena McCormack has been coordinating HIV prevention trials since 1994. From the outset she worked on HIV vaccine trials in Europe and Africa. Since 1998 she has been involved in microbicide trials and is co-PI of the Microbicides Development Programme (MDP), a multi-disciplinary public-private partnership. She was Chief Investigator of the Phase III clinical trial that enrolled 9,385 women through six research centres in Southern Africa and reported in 2009. She is a partner in several vaccine and microbicide networks and working with colleagues in the UK to determine the role of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis in the national strategy, leading the PROUD pilot study.



Image of Max ParmarMax Parmar, Director of MRC CTU at UCL

Mahesh Parmar is a Professor of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology and Director of both the MRC Clinical Trials Unit and the Institute of Clinical Trials and Methodology at UCL.  He has been an Associate Director of the National Cancer Research Network since its inception in 2001, an organisation which has more than doubled the number of patients going into cancer studies in England. Max joined the MRC in 1987.  He has more than 200 publications in peer reviewed journals, many of which have had direct impact on policy, clinical practice and improving outcomes for patients. The Unit he directs is at the forefront of resolving internationally important questions, particularly in infectious diseases and cancer, and also aims to deliver swifter and more effective translation of scientific research into patient benefits.  It does this by carrying out challenging and innovative studies and by developing and implementing methodological advances in study design, conduct and analysis.


Image of Derek StewartDerek Stewart, Associate Director for Patient  & Public Involvement, NIHR CRN

Born too many years ago in Ayr, Scotland Derek was treated successfully for throat cancer in 1995.  A former teacher Derek became involved in numerous aspects of patient involvement at local, network and national levels being the founder Chair of the Consumer Liaison Group.

Currently Derek is the Associate Director for Patient & Public Involvement and Engagement at the National Institute for Health Research - Clinical Research Network (NIHR CRN) for England.

In the charity sector Derek is Chair of Nottingham and District Citizens Advice Bureau.  His Twitter handle is @DerekCStewart.  You can also read his blog here


How to participate: Hi @mrcctu how can I take part in this Q&A session? #trialsmatter

Hi @Carolinegrundy send us your #trialsmatter questions in the same way, & we'll do our best to answer!

Our panellists will be sat by a computer and ready to answer questions from 1pm to 1.45pm on Wednesday 20 May (BST). 

You can tweet within this 45 minute slot, or tweet your question before the session begins if you prefer.  If you would like to participate but are not on Twitter, you can also email us your questions in advance.

To ask a question, simply tweet using the hashtag #trialsmatter.  One of our panel will then reply to you from the @MRCCTU account, as in the example below. 

As we have more than one panel member for our Q&A, the person who is answering your question will put their initials at the start of their tweet, so you know who is talking. 

As well as answering your questions, we're also very interested to hear what you think on the topic.  If you have a thought on why clinical trials matter, please tweet using the #trialsmatter hashtag as in the example to the right.


Further information: