The La Trobe Clinical Trials Platform: Opportunities for collaboration and partnership to support high quality research

Clinical trials are the best form of primary research evidence in health care, providing important information about whether new treatments are safe and effective.

By Professor Richard Gray, La Trobe University Research Theme Lead 'Healthy People, Families and Communities' and Professor of Clinical Nursing.

Conducting a clinical trial is complex and expensive, most studies are supported by government funding agencies – such as the National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) and Medical Research Futures Fund (MRFF) – or by industry partners.

Trials will often involve several hundred participants recruited across multiple clinical sites, typically hospitals or general practices. Because the healthcare and treatment people receive is directly impacted it is vital that clinical trials are conducted to the highest possible international standards.

Over the past decade it has become increasingly common for researchers to collaborate with a clinical trials platform (or unit) to ensure the quality and rigor of the research they conduct. Platforms work with researchers from the inception of the trial through to shut down and archiving the findings of the research. For example, when developing a protocol for a trial, platforms may provide advice and guidance on the feasibility of conducting the work; such as if the required number of participants can be recruited in the time allocated.

Platforms will also work with researchers to ensure that all the necessary ethical approvals and agreements with clinical and industry partners are in place, develop the necessary study documentation, promote the trial, randomise participants; it’s a long list. Sufficed to say platforms support all the necessary mechanics of running a high-quality clinical trial.

We have recently launched the La Trobe University clinical trials platform under the academic leadership of Associate Professor Joanne Kemp. The platform has been developed to support the kinds of trials that often focus on the implementation and translation of novel interventions to routine clinical practice – that we typically do at La Trobe.

These types of trials require a somewhat different type of support than more traditional drug and device studies. The team that run the La Trobe Clinical Trials platform have expertise and experience in supporting these trials. For example, the multiple practical challenges in recruiting, randomising, and training whole clinical team (clusters) to deliver an intervention; procedures for supporting data collection from hard to access groups of people, such as those experiencing mental ill-health. We also recognise the importance of public involvement in the co-design and running of clinical trials and the importance of economic evaluation in demonstrating the value of new interventions. To do this the platform works closely with the La Trobe public involvement in research and health economics groups.

The La Trobe clinical trials platform offers tailored support to researchers that is more cost effective – and personalised – than offerings from more traditional units. We recognise that industry partners and other universities may be interested in working with the platform in the design and facilitation of trials they need to undertake. We aim to be the trials platform of choice for researchers working in the communities that we serve and would be glad to discuss further how we can support your research.

If you’d like to find out more about La Trobe’s Clinical Trials Platform, please contact us on or visit our website.

La Trobe Industry contact: Hope Terdich, Manager – Marketing and Communications,