How clinical trials affect change
Professor John Simes, the Cancer Institute NSW’s 2016 Outstanding Cancer Researcher of the Year, has seen clinical trials change the lives of people around the world.
“Clinical trials aren’t just for developing new drugs,” Professor Simes stresses.
“They can provide evidence for any kind of health care: procedures, regimens of patient care, health systems, even the way surgery is performed.”
Establishing the National Health and Medical Resource Centre’s Clinical Trials Centre at University of Sydney in 1988, he has helped recruit over 80,000 people to access trials in cancer and other disease areas.
How are clinical trials making a difference?
Clinical trials provide the link between scientific research carried out in the laboratory and the use of new treatments and care given to patients.
“There’s a perception that clinical trials are expensive. And it’s true, they are,” Professor Simes says.
“But the cost of not doing them can end up being much greater.”
Professor Simes talks about how three trials he has been involved in have achieved this in different ways:
- The Catnon Study, an international study aimed at identifying the benefits of different combinations of radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments in improving patient care for people with brain tumours (anaplastic gliomas).What has this trial achieved?
The next development in clinical trials
The biggest opportunity for the future of clinical trials, according to Professor Simes, is to embed them further into the healthcare system.
“We still need large trials to identify the best health care at a public health level, as well as smaller trials in patients selected for personalised treatment on the basis of their biological profile.”
Reward for a life-changing career
“Receiving the award was a pleasing, humbling experience. This is a highlight of my career,” Professor Simes says, talking about being named the 2016 NSW Outstanding Cancer Researcher of the Year.
He’s just as quick to recognise the people around him.
“It’s a reflection of all the people I’ve worked with, a reflection of the people at the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre and Sydney Catalyst, the Australian collaborative cancer groups, and others in Australia and around the world, not only in cancer.”
“Without them the work I do would not be possible.”
In addition to continuing his life-changing work, 2016-winner Professor Simes hopes the award will help him to be more of an advocate, to help facilitate more improvements in research and across health care.