Updated on 17 September 2013
The first camp was held in December 2012 in Sarawak. In 2013, three more research camps were held and these were in Sabah, Johor and Penang. A Facebook page was created for participants to share and update their progress through the use of social media. The Malaysian Young Researchers page currently has 104 members.
Another initiative is the research retreats for established clinician researchers from similar discipline. As these retreats were established to brainstorm on research ideas and identify research topics for unmet clinical needs relevant to clinical practice, the head of a clinical discipline identifies established researchers and invite interested academicians from universities, and together they will recruit passionate and capable researchers to form a core research group for the discipline. This collaborative research group will initiate discussion of possible research topics by email before getting together in a research retreat for further deliberation and shortlist of research ideas and eventually preparation of summary protocols. After the retreat, the group continues with several weeks of communication via email before regrouping for meetings and to attend a workshop to complete their protocols. Currently, there are core research groups for gastroenterology, nephrology and primary care and other clinical disciplines such as ophthalmology and pharmacy will soon be formed.
In addition to these new projects, CRC offers various training programs to equip researchers with specific skills. One of its more popular courses is for Good Clinical Practice (GCP), which is a three-day workshop with a certification examination. The examination is invigilated by officers of the National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau, which is the regulatory body for clinical trials in Malaysia. The participants are taught ethics and regulatory of clinical trials, the role of ethics committees and informed consent, safety monitoring and reporting, the responsibilities of an investigator, how to work with trial sponsor, trial design and protocol development, the legal and financial aspects of clinical trials, good manufacturing practice, and safety surveillance. Candidates who pass the exam at the end of the workshop will be awarded a GCP certificate, which will then enable them to conduct clinical trials. The Ministry of Health of Malaysia has made GCP certification a requirement for principal investigators to conduct interventional trials since 1999.
Clinical Research Centre also organizes bioethics seminars for an in-depth study of clinical research regulation, the role of the ethics committees, informed consent, vulnerable subjects, the concept of equipoise, privacy and confidentiality of data, compensation, authorship and publication ethics, and disclosure of trial results. Other courses include research methodology and biostatistics, which train participants on the clinical research process, research design, study population and sampling, SPSS, descriptive analysis, and analysis of trial data. In these workshops, participants are expected to have a research idea in mind and be committed to see their research project to completion.
The recent initiatives coupled with CRC's existing training programs offer clinical researchers the entire package for career development. For a clinician with the aptitude for research and the interest to pursue it, the research camps provide them with the preliminary exposure, adequate awareness and the support network to kick-start their career. Maintaining a social media network ensures that none are lost to follow-up and the interest generated during the camp are sustained long after the camps are ended. The GCP, bioethics, and research methodology and statistics workshops equip these upcoming researchers with the skills they need to conduct good quality and ethical clinical research. Lastly, the research retreats target established researchers. These retreats are devised to challenge these experienced researchers to formulate research that is relevant and impacts their current clinical practice.