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International Clinical Trials Day – could you be a TrialBlazer?

Friday 20 May is International Clinical Trials Day and the HSC R&D Division within the Public Health Agency (PHA) is using it to celebrate those who take part in and champion research. 

International Clinical Trials Day is held on 20 May each year to commemorate the day that James Lind started what is often considered the first randomised clinical trial, aboard a ship on 20 May 1747. Clinical research is now the foundation of healthcare and is made possible thanks to the support and commitment of patients working in partnership with researchers and healthcare professionals.

This year to mark International Clinical Trials Day the HSC R&D Division is working with the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) to launch the TrialBlazers Campaign which will run from the 16 to 29 May 2022.

Dr Janice Bailie, Assistant Director of HSC R&D Division within the PHA, said: “Clinical trials are important for discovering new treatments for diseases, as well as new ways to detect, diagnose, and reduce the chance of developing the disease. Clinical trials can show researchers what does and doesn’t work.  However clinical trials would not be possible without those who volunteer to take part, or help to shape and influence research, they are the TrialBlazers.”

In Northern Ireland clinical and social care research takes place across all settings including hospitals, nursing homes and GP and Dental practices and involving people of all ages, both living with health conditions and those in good health.

During the pandemic over 30,000 people in Northern Ireland have taken part in COVID-19 studies funded by HSC R&D Division. While the NI Clinical Research Network continued to operate throughout the pandemic to recruit patients to COVID studies it has now returned to providing support for important, high quality research across the broad range of specialties in the HSC.

The TrailBlazers’ campaign will bring our community of research volunteers together across the UK to connect, share stories, celebrate their contribution and encourage friends, family and colleagues to be part of research too. 

Whether taking part in a study, shaping research delivery, or promoting the value of research to others - Every TrialBlazer makes a unique contribution.

Margaret Grayson, a member of Public Involvement Enhancing Research (PIER) NI said, “Due to clinical trials in cancer I have benefited from cutting edge treatments and therapies which have allowed me to live an active and fulfilling life. I am proud to be a TrialBlazer in Northern Ireland and to work with researchers and the important work that they do as a public partner.”

Dr Bailie concluded by saying: “It is through clinical trials that we gain knowledge and in turn hope for a better future. Not everyone is chosen to participate, but vital research can only happen if people of all ages volunteer and become Trailblazers’.

“I would like to express my thanks to all patients, researchers, health and social care professionals and partners. Your efforts are not only recognised today on International Clinical Trials Day, but every day for the work you do in advancing the treatment, prevention and diagnosis of disease.”

For more information about taking part in research and how you can support the TrialBlazer campaign please visit at

To watch some short videos highlighting the importance of clinical trials in research click here.