NUIG competition has school children cooking up clinical trials

Galway Daily news school children create clinical trials for START competition

Primary school kids from around Ireland will be coming to Galway this week to show off the medical clinical trials they have created in the final round of the START competition.

Now in its fourth year, the Schools Teaching Awareness of Randomised Trials (START) competition aims to educate students about why we need randomised trials to improve healthcare nationally and globally.

Earlier this year primary schools from all over the country were invited to dream up their own fun, randomised clinical trials on a topic of their choice.

The three schools which made the shortlist are coming to NUIG to present their work this Friday, May 17 where a final winner will be chosen.

Gaelscoil an Eiscir Riada NS of Tullamore, Co. Offaly asked ‘Does listening to the same music while studying for and completing a test improve your scores?

While Ovens NS, Co. Cork decided to find out ‘Does watching TV while doing written homework cause you to lose concentration?’.

And Scoil Mobhí NS in Glasnevin, Dublin carried out a trial to answer ‘Does positive encouragement and praise affect running speed?

The START competition is run by the Health Research Board – Trials Methodology Research Network at NUIG to celebrate International Clinical Trials Day, and the anniversary of the first clinical trial which was carried out in 1747 in the British Navy.

James Lind carried out a controlled trial on a group of sailors with scurvy, giving one group vinegar and cider with their diet and the other lemon juice to see who recovered best.

Dr Darrin Morrissey, Chief Executive at the Health Research Board, praised the school pupils for their “ingenuity” in designing their own clinical trials.

He added that he hopes that taking part in this competition and sharing what they’ve learned with friends and family will help “demystify” clinical research and “encourage more people to ask about what trials are available to them in relation to their own healthcare”.

The three shortlisted schools were selected by a group of judges: Kinvara NS teacher Aisling Murray who was the teacher of last year’s winning class; Dr Andrew Oxman, Research Director of the Global Health Unit at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health; and Ms Sarah Chapman, Knowledge Broker at Cochrane UK.

Dr Sandra Galvin, HRB-TMRN Programme Manager said that this competition has “captured the children’s imagination and creativity”.

But more than that, she said that the approach these kids have taken to their work in helping people to understand “complex and challenging” issues and information is an important aspect of improving healthcare.