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.

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