Testing strength and science

What does possibly the toughest obstacle course on the planet have to do with clinical trials?

Dr Kerry Manton

We spend 5 minutes with QUT’s Dr Kerry Manton who is looking to change people’s perceptions that participating in clinical trials are an opportunity for all Australians to contribute to science.

Thousands of people will converge at Woodford on 20–21 May to take part in Tough Mudder, an obstacle course designed to test all-around strength, stamina, teamwork and mental grit.

QUT, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation and the Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation at the Greenslopes Private Hospital will be attending the event as well as reaching out to registered racers through their online educational campaign in the lead up to the event.

Tell us why you’re involved in Tough Mudder in May.

We wanted to engage with the community in a setting where they would never expect science to be found. The Tough Mudder event attracts lots of participants from across Queensland and northern New South Wales. We will be at the Mudder village on the 2 days of the event and will be using various communications channels both before and after the event to inform and educate the general public about the importance of clinical trials.

We need more people engaged with science and participating in clinical trials so research is grounded in evidence, leading to new discoveries to improve people’s lives.

The first day of the Tough Mudder on 20 May — is International clinical trials day — a time to celebrate the wonderful volunteers who participate in clinical trials and thereby improve the medical treatments that we can safely and effectively provide to all Australians.

Tough Mudder to be held on 20 May, International clinical trials day

Is it risky being involved in clinical trials?

Human clinical trials are essential for the safety and efficacy testing of new drugs before the wide-spread use by the Australian community.

It is a myth that people involved in trials are ‘guinea pigs’. The choice is theirs to participate or not. Detailed information about the trial is provided, and the decision to participate is voluntary. Participants may withdraw at any time. All trials are reviewed by independent ethics committees.

We know the level of knowledge and understanding in the Australian community surrounding clinical trials is at an all-time low and this is inhibiting the development of novel drugs for Australians. Researchers have to raise the awareness of clinical trials in the general community — and that’s what we’re doing at Tough Mudder.

Take part in clinical trials and contribute to science (Image courtesy of Q-Pharm)

Why it’s great to be involved in clinical trials?

Participants in clinical trials are modern medical heroes — they save lives. If you’re taking part in a clinical trial, you’ll be playing an essential role to move research forward. New treatments go through a development phase which often starts with healthy people, before going into patients.

You get an opportunity to contribute to science and have first-hand experience about how research works. You, or your family or friends who may develop diseases have the opportunity to access potential treatments before they are widely available. In addition people who take part in clinical trials receive expert care and monitoring for their disease while the treatment is being assessed.

Without clinical trials there can be no improved or new treatments, prevention or cures. Scientists are always looking for improvements and innovation but without volunteers we can’t make the great steps needed.

Volunteers help to make improvements in science (Image courtesy of Institute of Health and
 Biomedical Innovation)

How can you sign up for clinical trials?

You can learn more about clinical trials by checking out the following links:

Australian Clinical Trials

Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation

Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation

Q-Pharm

You can follow our tweets #ClinicalTrialsDay

This project is funded by the Advance Queensland Engaging Science Grants. Check out the exciting science engagement projects and activities happening across Queensland at the Advance Queensland website.

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