Webinar 13 – Reflections on managing research during the pandemic

As we begin a new year it seems only naturally that we take the time to look back over the previous one. What we have gained, what we have lost and what we have learned. Regardless of where we fit in the grand scheme of things we all of moments that have defined the past year and reflections from these are often what drives up forward.

2021 was the year that Prof Tim Walsh‘s time as R&D Director for NHS Lothian came to an end. And it felt appropriate to get Tim’s reflections on the last year year from this unique position,  but also in his capacity as Chair for Critical Chair at the University of Edinburgh.

In Webinar 13 of our Research during a Pandemic series Tim reflects on how the pandemic was managed, both locally through the R&D team but also nationally, and emphasises how we were in more prepared than we could have been thanks to work that had been undertaken previously for Swine flu.

Webinar 12 – Research During the Pandemic: Research, Covid19 and beyond

Back in September we were lucky enough to welcome Sheila Morris to deliver the 12th Webinar in our Research during a Pandemic series. Sheila is the Lead Research Nurse for Infectious Diseases in NHS Lothian, and during her session she discusses her 30 year research career spanning the HIV Pandemic through to the Covid 19 Pandemic. She reflects on the research delivered over the past year and a bit, highlighting the collaborative approach that was taken to undertake many of the new vaccine studies and how many of these wouldn’t have been possible without the support from other staff and departments.  One of her take  home messages is that kindness goes a long way.

Sign reading 'Be Kind'

ECRF in Teaching Matters

This year, The University of Edinburgh celebrates five years of developing, supporting, and promoting Open Education Resources (OER) through the OER policy and service. The Teaching Matters team was delighted to showcase a series of blog posts in the recent ‘Hot Topic’: Open for Good: Five Years of Open Education Resources at The University of Edinburgh.

As part of these inspirations in the August 2021 Teaching Matters Newsletter Edinburgh CRFs Jo Merrifield and Danielle Marlow shared their experiences of how OER practices encourage continuous professional development for academics. 

Webinar 11 – Setting up a Covid Vaccination Programme

NHS Lothian and it’s four Health and Social Care Partnerships are playing their part in the biggest vaccination programme the country has ever seen, to help protect the population from Covid-19.


Road sign

In Webinar 11 of our Research during a Pandemic series, Pat Wynne and Ellie Hunter joined us to share their perspectives as they lead the vaccination programme for NHS Lothian.

Mulling over the challenges, successes and learning opportunities, Pat and Ellie give a candid account about bringing colleagues from the NHS, corporate partners and the Armed Forces together; thinking outside the box; and vaxi taxis

A really overwhelming programme, physically, mentally and emotionally, delivered by a truly inspiring team!

Let the sun shine!

The summer is finally here and after all that we have had to endure, it feels like a long time coming.  The opportunities for us to go out and feel the sun on our skin, visit with family and friends and partake in some of the activities we have missed so much during the pandemic is a welcome relief from the cold, wet winter days.

Sun in palm of hand

Taking time to savour these moments and make them count is a priority for us all as we don’t know which way the coin is going to land over the coming months.

If these last few months have taught us anything, it’s how precious life, moments and feelings are. So take this time, rest and recharge. We’ll be back with a new webinar at the end of July, so watch this space!

Webinar 10 – Nurse Director’s Perspective

International Clinical Trials Day on May 20th allows us all to take time and reflect on how far we have come in clinical research since James Lind undertook the first clinical trial on HMS Salisbury back in 1747.

James Lind feeding a sailor a lemon

Throughout the last 15 months, Covid has had us all running in circles. Lockdowns, roadmaps and protection levels have become our main focus, but International Clinical Trials Day 2021 also felt like an opportunity to share with our community what has been happening behind the scenes with our nursing teams.

Prof Alex McMahon, Executive Director, Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Healthcare Professionals in NHS Lothian obliged us by sharing all of this work and giving us his frank perspective on living through Covid.


International Clinical Trials Day 2021

International Clinical Trials Day is held every year on 20th May.

Portrait of James Lind

The day celebrates the anniversary of the first clinical trial in 1747 by Edinburgh born naval surgeon James Lind into the causes of scurvy (a condition caused by lack of vitamin C) on board the HMS Salisbury.

Symptoms of scurvy

At the time there were many conflicting ideas about how to treat scurvy, Lind confronted this uncertainty by treating his patients within a clinical trial, comparing 6 proposed remedies:

  • A quart of Cider each day
  • Half a pint of Seawater each day
  • 25 drops of elixir of Vitriol (Sulphuric acid), 3 times each day
  • Nutmeg-sized paste of Garlic, Mustard seed, Horseradish, Balsam of Peru and Gum Myrrh, 3 times each day
  • 2 spoonfuls of Vinegar, 3 times each day
  • 2 oranges and 1 lemon each day

Two sailors were allocated to each treatment arm for 14 days, and the trail showed that those who received the citrus fruit treatment experienced a remarkable recovery.

James Lind feeding a sailor a lemon

In 1748, Lind retired from the Navy and undertook professional qualifications at the University of Edinburgh before publishing “A Treatise of the Scurvy’ in 1753 and ‘An Essay on the Most Effectual Means of Preserving the Health of Seamen in the Royal Navy’ in 1757.

Even though the importance of Lind’s findings were not recognised at the time, 40 years later an Admiralty order was issued to supply lemon juice to its ships. Scurvy disappeared almost completely from the Royal Navy.

Edinburgh CRF’s Education Programme and Patient and Public Involvement teams will be marking this important day with a variety of online activities including:

  • A webinar with Professor Alex McMahon, Executive Director for Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals in NHS Lothian and he will be discussing his perspective on Covid19
  • A selection of should videos from some of the Scottish Research Nurse, Midwifery and Coordinators Network committee talking about their career pathways, how they got into research and how they ended up in the roles they are in
  • Launching a fully online bitesize course which is a ‘Practical Guide to Patient and Public Involvement’ and other Open Educational Resources
  • Colleagues from Edinburgh Clinical Trials Unit sharing their thoughts on clinical research

If you would like to follow our activities please follow us on Twitter @EdinburghCRF @WTCRF_Education @EdCRFPPI #ICTD21 #ICTD2021 @EdinUniECTU





Webinar 9 – Working across 3 nations

As lockdowns during the pandemic begin to ease, and we can spend time outdoors with our family and friends, it was fabulous to hear from Katie Wells, the National Coordinator for the PREVENT Dementia Programme.

During the webinar, Katie discussed her role in managing multiple study sites across 3 nations during the Covid19 pandemic. She describes how the research has been impacted by the pandemic, focussing on the different restrictions in place in the different sites across the UK and Ireland as she and her teams worked to bring back the healthy volunteer research.

Post-it saying closed


5 years of the Open Education Resources service at UoE

Stephanie (Charlie) Farley, Open Education Resources (OER) Advisor within Education Design and Engagement  was curating a mini-series of posts on the Teaching Matters blog to celebrate 5 years of the Open Education Resources service.

The theme was ‘Open for Good: Five Years of Open Education Resources at the University of Edinburgh’, so Jo and I chatted to Charlie about our aim to spread clinical research information with our own OER strategy and about some of the rainbows we’ve found along the way.

picture of geometric shapes with the colours of the rainbow

Image Credit: Clark Van Der Beken on Unsplash

One year on…

Last week marked one year mark since the first pandemic lockdown started and many of us took part in the one minute’s silence held on 23rd March to pay our sympathies and respects to the more than 126,000 individuals who have been lost to our communities. Looking forward, there is a sense of optimism on the horizon now that the vaccination programmes are being rolled out with huge success. Our healthcare teams around the country have risen to an unprecedented challenge and made massive contributions in response of the pandemic.

Our staff are still making fantastic efforts to deliver the best in health and social care research despite challenging circumstances, and our University colleagues  continue to deliver education to the student body.

With pride we can reflect on how our researchers are leading work on disease susceptibility, treatments, the effectiveness of vaccines and other critical clinical aspects. Having been well supported by regulatory, funding and R&D teams.

Many personal and professional battles have been fought during the challenges of the past year and these make all of the achievements attained even more remarkable. Well done, we’re doing it. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and as the spring months extend into summer we can hopefully get back to enjoying what we did before.

For us this will be maintaining a sense of community and support for our clinical research teams, delivering training and education in both online and face-2-face formats and continuing to improve our learning and development offering so that we can respond to these types of events together.

Keep well, stay safe 🌈


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