At this time I’d worked as a clinical trial statistician in the pharma industry for a few years. My role involved designing, analysing and presenting the results of clinical trials. This was a fascinating role. Being involved in defining the “question” that needed to be answered by a clinical trial, designing a trial to answer the “question” and then obtaining the results and seeing the “answer” to the question. It was more than this too, once we had an answer we then went on to use it. This frequently involved combining results of a number of clinical trials in a development programme to submit to government agencies across the World with the objective of being given permission (a licence) to sell the new pharmaceutical product and therefore allow patients to be treated with it.
Whilst I had been part of teams responsible for creating clinical trials and also getting new drugs licenced, the man in the bar was the first time I had met someone who had directly benefitted by things my company and colleagues had done. For reasons of patient confidentiality a large number of people involved in ‘research’ will never meet a patient in their research. To many people working in research, all they see is anonymous datasets, data points, endpoints, numbers of patients who did this, that, or the other. Sometimes it is difficult to comprehend the ‘humans’ who the numbers are about. It is good to meet those who benefit like the gentleman in the bar, it would be good to see those who contribute to the research. This is where the difference lies.
The answer to whywedoresearch is at many levels. Ultimately it is more than to answer a research question (Research Objective), because in many cases there is a reason why that question needs to be answered, e.g. what impact is intended on future healthcare as a result of this research (Healthcare Objective). If you drill down as to ‘why’ the research is being undertaken you finally comprehend the value that will be delivered to others once the results come through. While some of the stakeholders in the research understand the ultimate reason, many stakeholders do not and this includes the patients, staff and doctors. In contrast it is the patients and doctors who are the success or failure of the research (without patients there would be no research) as they often consider the human element of whywedoresearch (i.e. Patient Objective). We all play a part but very few people see it from all sides.
I’ve now been in and around clinical research for well over 20 years. I’ve met a wide range of people in commercial and non-commercial settings, regulatory agencies, prescribers, fund holders and grant providers. Combining what I have learned from them with my logical background as a Statistician then my take on whywedoresearch is as follows:
I regret not buying the man in the bar a drink. At the time I didn’t fully understand the importance of what he taught me, if I had I would have chatted more with him and certainly bought him a pint of Boddingtons. We are involved in research because of others, not ourselves.
And finally my personal take on #whywedoresearch is from my eldest son William, born at 28 weeks and had a battle with life
Adrian M Parrott BSc MSc MBA
Managing Director, PharmaSchool Ltd
Technical Director, Delegant Ltd