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Training the next generation of trials methodology researchers

9 Nov 2017

This case study forms part of our Investing for Impact report, looking at how MRC- funded research delivers impact. More can be found in the Investing for Impact section of our website.

The MRC Hubs for Trials Methodology Research Network has developed a cohort of PhD students undertaking specific projects in trials methodology research. This important programme helps build capacity in an area of research that makes a difference to patients and the trials community.

Clinical trials methodology is an important area of research that seeks to improve human health by improving how clinical trials are carried out. The MRC has a strong history in clinical trials methodology; for example in 1948 the MRC funded the world’s first randomised clinical trial, often considered the gold standard for a clinical trial.

Since then, as our understanding of disease and treatment has evolved, so has the complexity of clinical trials methodology. The Hubs for Trials Methodology Research (HTMR) were first established by the MRC in 2009 to create a UK-wide regionally distributed research resource to improve the design, conduct, analysis, interpretation, and reporting of clinical trials. The HTMR Network promotes and encourages collaborative methodological research relevant to trials to accelerate putting the most effective and appropriate methods into practice.

From 2008-2014, the individual hubs of the HTMR helped train a cohort of 16 students. The experience of being based within a Hub, which is part of a thriving Network of Peers, has contributed to success in their studies and provided a unique experience for developing their current careers. Of the 16 students, five are in the midst of their PhD projects (two with submission dates in June 2017), eight continued working in academia as a Research Associate or Lecturer, two have moved into industry, and one into a clinical Public Health post.

Since then, an additional 16 students funded directly by the network started their PhDs in 2014/2015. A further seven have recently been appointed to the cohort and will begin their studies during 2017. The success of these studentships demonstrate the MRC’s continued commitment to developing skills and training to support capacity building in clinical trials methodology.


  • Categories: Funding
  • Health categories: Generic
  • Strategic objectives: Capacity and skills, Research environment
  • Locations: Cambridge, Liverpool, London, Oxford
  • Type: Success story