News roundup


HRB-TMRN announces scientists of tomorrow

Three primary schools were shortlisted as finalists in the annual Schools Teaching Awareness of Randomised Trials (START) competition, which is run by the Health Research Board-Trials Methodology Research Network (HRB-TMRN).

Picture of START winner with an owl.

START is held in celebration of International Clinical Trials Day and the anniversary of the first clinical trial carried out in 1747 in the British Navy. Each year, it invites students in 4th, 5th and 6th classes from primary schools across Ireland to create their own randomised trial* as a fun, project-based way of learning about randomised trials. This encourages children to develop critical thinking skills, as well as teach them about healthcare decisions and how we can improve health and wellbeing through randomised trials. 

This year, the three finalists are from Galway, and their success was celebrated at a special event at NUI Galway where they presented and discussed their work. The winning schools and their project titles are: 

  • Scoil Bhríge agus Bhreandáin Naofa, Corrandulla, GalwayDo 5-minute movement breaks between subjects help improve concentration?
  • Gaelscoil Dara, Renmore, Co. Galway: An bhfoghlaimíonn páistí níos fearr ó mhúinteoir ná ó chéile? Do children learn better from a teacher or from each other?
  • Claregalway Educate Together, Claregalway, Co. GalwayDoes 5 minutes of exercise help children focus for a test compared to children who do not exercise

Speaking about the competition, Dr Mairead O’Driscoll, Chief Executive at the Health Research Board, said:

“The questions devised by each of these finalists, and indeed all entrants, are fascinating. The curiosity and creativity of their bright young minds perfectly captures the essence of the START competition. I did not envy the judging panel in shortlisting the final three! Congratulations to all of them from everyone at the HRB.”

Professor Declan Devane, Scientific Director of the HRB-TMRN at NUI Galway, said:

“We started this competition for two reasons. Firstly, we wanted to raise awareness of the importance of randomised trials with children. Secondly, we wanted to harness the creativity and imagination of children in the design, conduct, analysis and reporting of trials. The high standard and variety of applications we receive each year demonstrates that the START competition has indeed raised the awareness of randomised trials and capitalised on children’s innate ability to explain difficult concepts clearly and in a fun way. We are very proud of all our applications.”


Read about our latest investment of €3 million in the HRB-TMRN

Visit the HRB-TMRN website

Visit the START website

To learn more about START visit:

*Randomised trials:

Sometimes called clinical trials, randomised trials are a type of research study often used to find out if a new medicine or treatment works. The decision about which treatment a person gets is decided at random (often by a computer) rather than being decided by the doctor or research participant. This means that we can be more certain that any differences in the results between the groups are caused by the treatment, and not by differences in the characteristics of the people who take part in the trials.