Read about the types of research and randomised clinical trials we are involved in at MEMO and HRC.

Pharmacology

Is the branch of medicine concerned with the study of drug action, in particular, the interactions that occur between a living organism and chemicals that affect normal or abnormal biochemical function.

This involves the study of drug composition, properties, interactions, and drug toxicology, along with therapeutic and medical applications. The two main areas of pharmacology are pharmacodynamics (the effect of drugs on biological systems) and pharmacokinetics (the effect of biological systems on drugs).

Clinical Pharmacology

Is the science of drugs and their application in human use. It is underpinned by the basic science of pharmacology, with added focus on the application of pharmacological principles and methods in the real world. It has a very broad scope, from the discovery of new target molecules to the effects of drug usage in whole populations. An important part of the task of clinical pharmacology is to provide a risk benefit assessment of the effects of drugs on patients by:

  • Undertaking studies to provide an estimate of the probability of beneficial effects on populations, (benefit vs risk)

       And/or

  • Assessing the probability of adverse effects on populations. (Large scale safety studies)

Epidemiology

Epidemiology is the study of large scale health patterns in society/population. It is the cornerstone method of public health research and helps decision makers to arrive at the best medical decisions by providing a strong evidence-base, through the identification of risk factors for disease and targets for preventive medicine.

Epidemiologists are involved in the design of studies, collection and statistical analysis of data, and interpretation and sharing of results, with the major area of work involving outbreak investigation, disease surveillance and screening (medicine).

Pharmacoepidemiology

Is the study of the utilization and effects of drugs in large numbers of people. To accomplish this, pharmacoepidemiology borrows from both pharmacology and epidemiology.

Pharmacoepidemiology then can also be defined as the application of epidemiological methods to pharmacological issues. Examples of this include the study of vaccination uptake, the subsequent effect on infection rates, and the safety of the vaccination (benefits vs risks).

Randomised clinical trials (RCT)

A randomized controlled trial (RCT) (or randomized comparative trial) is a specific type of scientific experiment and the preferred design for a clinical trial.

RCT is often used to test the efficacy of various types of intervention within a patient population. RCT may also provide an opportunity to gather useful information about adverse effects, such as drug reactions.

The key distinguishing feature of the usual RCT is that study subjects are randomly allocated to receive one or other of the alternative treatments under study. Random allocation in real trials is complex, but conceptually, the process is like tossing a coin. After randomization, the two (or more) groups of subjects are followed in exactly the same way, and the only differences between the care they receive, for example, in terms of procedures, tests, outpatient visits, follow-up calls etc. should be those intrinsic to the treatments being compared.

The most important advantage of proper randomization is that it minimizes allocation bias, balancing both known and unknown prognostic factors, in the assignment of treatments.

For information on some of the trials the Memo Unit is running, see the clinical trials and studies web page.