What is clinical research?
Clinical research is patient-oriented research. It is research conducted with human subjects in order to answer specific health questions. It is the ‘action-end’ of the long process of discovery, development and implementation - where real outcomes affect real patients.
The aim of clinical research is to discover the causes of human diseases, to find the treatments that work in people and to uncover new ways to improve health. It also endeavours to determine how diseases can be prevented in the first place.
Clinical research has changed the face of modern medicine. Over 50 years ago, at the end of World War II, there were few methods available to effectively treat or prevent any of the deadliest diseases. There were no effective drug therapies for cancer, no chemotherapy, no radiotherapy, no coronary bypass surgery and no organ transplants. All of these vital treatments have been developed through clinical trials, adding quality of life and increasing life expectancy for millions of people across the world.
Why does RBWH do research?
To answer questions about different diseases, clinical researchers need access to patients with these diseases, and hospitals are obviously where these patients can be found. RBWH is the largest hospital in Queensland, and as a tertiary referral hospital, it also receives patients from other hospitals who cannot give the specialised care that is required. In 2006/07 there were 1,177,030 ‘occasions of service’ at RBWH – that’s 300,000 more than then next busiest Queensland hospital, the Princess Alexandra hospital.
Because of the many and varied cases that present at the hospital each day, RBWH is in the ideal position to conduct research into a large range of health issues effecting men, women and babies. Many other hospitals do not have the size, scope and access to patient numbers to enable them the same research opportunity. Undertaking research is also an integral part of business of a teaching hospital, to maintain high quality service delivery into the future.
How does clinical research benefit me?
For some patients, clinical research trials represent an avenue for receiving promising new therapies that would not otherwise be available. Patients with difficult to treat or currently ‘incurable’ diseases, such as AIDS or certain types of cancer, may want to pursue participation in clinical research trials if standard therapies are not effective.
Clinical research trials often provide first access to new therapies and can often be life saving.
Obviously any improved treatments and methods of prevention found through clinical research can be of benefit to anyone around the world at any time. The next life that is saved through clinical trials could be yours.
What types of clinical research or trials are there?
Clinical research consists mainly of population studies and clinical trials.
A population study is conducted on the broader community rather than on patients. For example, the LAW (Longitudinal Assessment of Ageing in Women) study conducted through the Betty Byrne Henderson Women’s Health Research Centre is a population study conducted on 500 randomly selected south east Queensland women, looking at the ageing process of women 40 to 80 years. This ten year study has produced a substantial amount of data over ten projects and is now being analysed. This study will have a huge impact of future prevention and treatment practices on a vast array of women’s health issues such as heart disease and menopause.
A clinical trial is the name commonly given to research in which a therapeutic, preventive or diagnostic intervention is tested. These could include surgical trials, treatment trials or drug trials.
An example of a surgical trial is the LACE trial being conducted through the Queensland Centre for Gynaecological Cancer at RBWH where randomised patients are receiving laparoscopic surgery rather than conventional open surgery.
An example of a treatment trial is the early exercise program for burns patients. This trial, being conducted at RBWH, is examining the effect of exercise on the recovery of adult burns patients. This world-first study, ‘Exercise and Metabolism in Post Burn Injury’, is expected to show the positive impact which exercise has both physically and mentally for burns patients.
A drug trial is just that, a trial of different drugs or a new combination of drugs to benefit the care of patients.
Finally, there is research that is dedicated to early detection. The data and/or samples are gathered either randomly through the population or through patients that fit the criteria for certain projects such as irritable bowel disease.
How are clinical trials carried out?
How are patients selected for trials?
How do we know if the trials are safe?
How can I be part of a clinical trial?
What makes research at RBWH different to that done by others?
Unlike laboratory or bench-top research, clinical research can be used in real-time to directly improve patient care.
Being the largest hospital in Queensland, RBWH also have contact with more patients with a multitude of health issues. The most serious cases are sent here from all over Queensland so our doctors need to be leading the way in treatment methods, which will ensure better patient outcomes. RBWH is at the coal face of medical treatment making a difference on a daily basis.
RBWH is a public hospital so doesn’t the Government pay for your research?
The Government does provide some funding for clinical research through grants and specific budget allocations. These funds, however, account for only around 25% of the total cost of research potential at RBWH.
Apart from providing ongoing funding to the five main research centres at the hospital, a key role of RBWH Foundation is to provide development funding for new projects. This enables a researcher to commence their project and produce enough data/results to then apply for more substantial grants from the State or Commonwealth Government, or large private trusts and Foundations. Once these research projects are established, the Foundation will assist in applying for individual grants on behalf of the researchers.
In summary, RBWH Foundation assists with getting the individual projects initially off the ground to reach a certain point where they are then able to apply for government funding.
Where else does funding for research come from?
Apart from RBWH Foundation, there are a number of external bodies that provide funding for research, generally via a grants process. Some of these bodies include the National Breast Cancer Foundation, the QLD Cancer Council, the National Heart Foundation, the Bonnie Babes Foundation, the Leukaemia Foundation and the QLD Nursing Council.
Some of our researchers are also jointly funded by tertiary institutions such as the University of Queensland or QUT.
RBWH Foundation assists researchers to apply for external grants and administers many of these on their behalf.
Who determines which research projects receive funding?
Under the conditions of approval for the Foundation’s status as an ‘Approved Research Institute’(the basis of the foundation’s Deductible Gift Recipient status), the Foundation is required to obtain the Research Advisory Committee’s advice on all research expenditure from the Foundation’s gift accounts.
The Research Advisory Committee is chaired by Emeritus Professor Mervyn Eadie AO. After calls for research applications, the committee evaluates and recommends to RBWH Foundation a variety of research funding, including scholarships, research fellowships, strategic initiative awards and top-up funding for clinical scientists who have been successful with applications to external granting bodies.
Why should I make a donation to RBWH Foundation?
When large not-for-profits, such as the National Heart Foundation or the Cancer Council, raise money for research, they are often raising money to distribute in the form of grants to research bodies and clinicians, such as RBWH. A donation to RBWH Foundation, therefore, is a donation direct to the source of the research.
By making a donation to RBWH Foundation you are making an investment in the health and well-being of Queensland.
How much donor money is spent on administration?
How do we know that our money has gone to the area we nominated?
What kind of hospital is RBWH?
RBWH is run by Queensland Health, a department of the Queensland State Government. It is also a tertiary referral teaching hospital, providing services to patients throughout the Queensland, northern New South Wales and the Northern Territory.
RBWH combines the former Royal Women’s Hospital and the Royal Brisbane Hospital. These hospitals merged in December 2003.
What does a ‘teaching’ hospital mean?
What does a ‘tertiary’ hospital mean?
Who receives treatment at RBWH?
How can I make a donation?
A donation to RBWH Foundation can be made via phone, online, mail, or at the hospital. Remember all donations over $2.00 are tax deductible.Online: www.rbwhfoundation.com.au
Mail: PO Box 94, Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital, QLD, 4029
Phone: Free call 1300 363 786
How can I make a bequest?
If you wish to consider a bequest to RBWH Foundation, it is important that your Will is precisely worded and accurately reflects your wishes. If you would like to receive a copy of our suggested wording, please contact the Foundation on 07 3646 7588. The Foundation also recommends that you seek legal advice when making your Will.
What is Workplace Giving?
I work at RBWH. How can I organise regular contributions to be deducted straight from my pay?
I don’t work at RBWH. Am I able to organise regular contributions to be deducted straight from my pay?
Simply talk to your employer, human resources team or payroll office and they should be able to tell you what to do. If they require information about RBWH Foundation or the Workplace Giving program, please phone 07 3646 7588.
How can I find out what events the RBWH Foundation is holding and how the money is being spent?
All upcoming events are listed on the RBWH Foundation website, with many also promoted in the regular newsletter. If you would like to go onto our mailing list to receive a copy of the newsletter, please either call 07 3646 7588 or email
How do I make RBWH Foundation a beneficiary for my event?
Simply phone 07 3646 7588 and the Foundation would be delighted to discuss your event with you. There may also be a number of ways in which the Foundation can help you with organising and promoting the event.
I would rather people make a donation to the RBWH Foundation than send flowers to my family members funeral. How do I organise that?
Simply contact the foundation on 07 3646 7588 and we can organise for a supply of special ‘In Memorium’ envelopes to be sent to the Funeral Director. We will also advise the next of kin of the total amount donated, without giving specific details of who donated what.