ICTMC 2022 Reflections
2022-11-02

Its been one month since a number of our staff attend their first in person conference since 2019, ICTMC 2022 in Harrogate, and what a great conference to come back to. A number of our staff (and our new MRC Doctoral Training Programme in Trials methods PhD students) share their highlights below.

Azar Alexander-Sefre - PhD Student (1st Year)
I attended ICTMC in the first week of starting my PhD, after only ever having spoken with my supervisors a few times and without any real expectations of the conference itself. During the first session I attended, I was immediately put at ease. It was excellent to meet and speak with lots of different people, from all kinds of research backgrounds. All of whom were so clearly passionate about trial methodology and showed genuine interest in my upcoming topic of research (inclusivity of trials). I enjoyed the workshops on the first day, where I was challenged to think and discuss some of the barriers around participation in trials. The parallel session talks were also excellent. I found myself completely engaged in each that I attended, with the speakers opening some areas to me that I had never even questioned before. Such as the carbon footprint of trials! The inclusivity session was especially inspiring. Firstly, the sheer number of attendees showed how high on the agenda this topic is but also, each of the speakers reinforced my excitement for this mission I’m about to embark on. The opportunity to read the variety of posters was great and I also met several other PhD students who I am sure I’ll keep in touch with. I came away having learnt so much more than I thought possible and I am looking forward to the next ICTMC in 2024 – hopefully with a poster of my own!

Dr Beatriz Goulao - Research Fellow
Practicing my presentation in front of 3-D people, check. Thinking about how we used to dress for conferences, check. Nervously catching the maybe-cancelled 8-h train from Aberdeen to Harrogate, check. ICTMC 2022 was the first research conference I attended in-person since 2019. The expectations to see colleagues and to discuss present and future work were high. It lived up to the expectations: I had three days of fun, thought-provoking, and inspiring discussions. Inspiration was everywhere at ICTMC: from Salim Abdool Karim’s lessons on perseverance and resilience that led to better HIV treatments, to Isabelle Boutron’s quest to improve the reporting of clinical trials, to every single public partner that stood up and asked – how can we do better? I returned from ICTMC 2022 exactly as I hoped: full of ideas, new friends, and a strong motivation to do better. Start your engines, ICTMC 2024!

Sophie Greenwood – PhD Student (1st Year)
I was very lucky to have the chance to go to the ICTMC this year. It was my first time at this conference, my second conference ever, so I was very grateful to go! The breadth and depth of the topics at the event was very impressive, and it was very interesting to discuss with other academics to learn their perspectives. As a later phase statistician, I learnt about topic areas I haven’t previous seen such as PPI. This is definitely a subject I am looking to learn more on as my research progresses. Furthermore, there were some interactive sessions such as the estimand workshop, where we discussed and debated practical examples. So overall it was a busy few day (which left me a little brain dead), and I left feeling very much inspired to learn more and develop the clinical trial methodology we use further.

Prof Graeme MacLennan – CTU Director
I’ve been looking forward to ICMTC 2022 since the last conference in Brighton late 2019 which was the last conference I attended before lockdowns kicked on. ICTMC 2022 was great, to catch up with old friends and make some new ones, and of course to hear about all the great methodology work that goes on the UK and beyond. Harrogate was a fantastic place to hold a conference, very quaint Victorian Spa town, plenty of nice restaurants and pubs for all-important networking…. I’d been inspired by 2019’s ICTMC to get some methods work that’s been kicking about my desk ready for next time. I didn’t quite get round to it this time, but next time, for sure, roll on 2024.

Dr. Carrie Stewart – Research Fellow
“If you are here, you are a methodologist…”
I don’t consider myself a methodologist, and as a first timer, I really wasn’t sure how much I would gain from ICTMC.
However, it quickly became apparent that the enormous breadth of topics covered are relevant to everyone involved in research, however you wish to classify yourself.
I really enjoyed adding to my toolbox of knowledge about PPI in research. The presentations and posters on this topic raise some serious points for future consideration. The repeated mention of ‘enhanced’ information leaflets also grabbed my attention and I had some interesting discussions with other researchers- further food for thought. I also witnessed some novel approaches to increasing impact from research posters (e.g. interactive posters) which I look forward to taking forward in the future.
This conference is informative on a broad range of issues connected with the design and conduct of research. It is applicable to all who are involved in research, regardless of whether you consider yourself a ‘methodologist’ or not.

Prof Shaun Treweek – Trial Methodologist
First, a confession. I’m not a great conference-goer because generally speaking I don’t think they are a good use of time or money. But there are exceptions and ICTMC has always been among them. My overwhelming reflection from ICTMC 2022 is that ICTMC remains firmly in the ‘Exceptions’ category for conferences and stays on my very short list of conferences that are must-attends.
The scientific program was excellent. I never found myself tucked in a quiet corner of the venue checking my email instead of talking or listening to someone. I really liked the ‘one oral presentation only’ rule, which meant that we got to listen to lots of different people speak, most of whom had seen far fewer summers than myself. I say this as someone who loves a stage but the breadth of speakers was a wonder and the 1-only rule helped to make that happen. Do this again please. I enjoyed that SWATs, inclusion and public involvement popped up in talks across sessions. Salim Abdool Karim’s opening plenary was magnificent, an inspiration for us all and delivered with grace, charm and humour. As always, the Irish invasion of ICTMC was a joy, grand to have a bit of banter, so it was. Finally, we had a Trial Forge stand in the exhibition hall for the first time and it was a delight. This gave us a home at the conference and when at home we were always talking to someone. We also gave away a lot of very nice Swiss pens. I will definitely have a stand again at ICTMC.
Maybe trial methodology just attracts nice people but to me ICTMC always feels open and welcoming and very much worth spending some time on. I’ll be there for the next one. We’ll have pens to give away, check us out.

Finally, you can see some of the highlights from Twitter of the HSRU team presenting talks and posters, and socializing!

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Published by Health Services Research Unit, University of Aberdeen

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