You are here


Amidst the COVID19 pandemic, we were honoured to be able to take part in the renowned EASD Robert Turner Clinical Research course (RTC) virtually this year.

Day 1 – 26 June 2022

We started our course on a Sunday with a warm greeting from the organising committee. For the first time, we got to meet the academic staff – David, Mary, Anne, Jonathan, Toryn, and Apostolos. All of them were extremely welcoming and had given us a detailed overview of what to expect for the course.We were then given an introductory course to R – a statistical program that we will be using throughout the course, led by Toryn. A few of us were already familiar with the program prior to this course, but the majority of us were quite puzzled and lost at first. Fortunately the academic staff were very helpful and we also had a lot of time to practice in small groups with tutor support.By the end of the day, most of us were able to make simple graphs and charts using the program and we were excited to see what the remaining of the course would take us.

Day 2 – 27 June 2022

One of the most important aspects of research is to be able to formulate a relevant and succinct research question. So we began the second day with an interactive lecture led by David, Amanda and Apostolos on how to formulate a research question and understanding principles of study design. Prior to this lecture we were asked to submit our own research questions to Apostolos; these questions were used as stems to stimulate discussion among ourselves. Students were encouraged to give constructive feedback to each others’ formulated research questions. We were then given a review on the basics of descriptive and inferential statistic by Jonathan.

This short but comprehensive overview of statistical principles paved way to the subsequent lecture on selecting and utilising patient data led by Rustam and Yue. We were given a hypothetical research question and as a group we were asked to brainstorm the kind of data we would like to use to conduct our research. Rustam and Yue then shared their experiences with handling datasets and gave us practical tips on tidying data sets in order to put them into good use for our future research.

Incorporating what we had learned from these sessions, we then had an interactive session with Jonathan and Ruth on hypothesis testing. We were broken into small groups, and each group was assigned a research question. We had 15-20mins to prepare a brief research plan and took turns to present our ideas to the group. We received constructive feedback from Ruth, a statistician. By the end of the second day we had a much better understanding on the thought processes and planning behind a research project. We ended the day with a short session to practice using R in our groups and also with an introduction to our course project for the week – more on this tomorrow!

Day 3 – 28 June 2022

On the next day we delved into the field of medical research ethics. Hugh Davies, the chair for the Research Ethics Committee in Oxfordshire, covered the fundamental principles underlying good research and along with Jane, we discussed the importance of having clear, justified research questions, the appropriateness of the methods, involvement of the public/patients, the post-trial care of the patients and more.

Illustrating the sheer breadth of the course, we then moved on to critical appraisal. Led by Apostolos and Amanda, we were guided through the appraisal of a meta-analysis (looking at the effect ofskipping breakfast on weight and calorie consumption) and also a randomised controlled trial (looking at the effect of SGLT inhibitors on cardiovascular outcomes). We were directed to useful structures for appraising papers, and in small groups were able to pick apart the positives and negatives of each study.

We then had a session for our course project which would be done in two groups. We were provided with pre-existing datasets from published journals and were tasked to formulate our own research question, plan a statistical analysis, use R to analyse the data and produce quality graphs, write an abstract and then present our work – in 3 days! This was clearly not an easy task but the groups banded together through Zoom calls and Google documents and set to work. By the close of the day, we understood our dataset and had our research questions at the ready.

Day 4 – 29 June 2022

The penultimate day was once again packed full of useful content. We started the day with a concise overview of presentation skills by Leanne and then, in our groups, were given the job of improving two chaotic slides with subsequent feedback from the rest of the team. This was swiftly followed by practical advice from David on how to write fellowship applications and select the right PhD position.

We were then given an overview of the large and increasing role of genetics in diabetes by Katharine, including the importance of identifying MODY and the evolution of the Type 1 Genetic Risk Score and its role in practice. The final teaching session of the day was delivered by Garry and discussed the expansive and important role of diabetes service evaluation. We discussed in groups the different measures and the practicality of processing this vast quantity of data.

In the remaining hour, we divided into our two groups projects. With the clock ticking, we analysed our dataset, decided on our messages and wrote our 250- word abstracts for review the next day.

Day 5 – 30 June 2022

It was our last day. Nostalgic about the past week and united through our group work, we set out to produce our project presentations – taking onboard advice from Leanne’s session the previous day. In an interlude, Toryn showed us the power of data analysis in R through two separate publicly-available large datasets he had been analysing with a converging, meaningful result. It was then time for the presentations! Edith and Roxana delivered succinct presentations on behalf of their groups and they were met with excellent and constructive feedback from the other participants and faculty members.

We then reminisced over how far we had come over the course of just 5 days and a special thanks was held for all of the faculty members who delivered the course.


The Robert Turner Course was an intense but enlightening event. In just 5 days we managed to complete a short project, delve into the R programming language and cover an incredible breadth of research skills – from the conception of a research question through to presenting results and the appraisal of others’ research. Despite being virtual, the course organisers managed to execute a seamless, highly interactive event leaving the groups feeling united and empowered.

We would like to thank all of the faculty for their efforts in designing and delivering the course. The support provided by EASD and Lilly Diabetes is immensely appreciated – thank you.


Aleksandra Tikhonova (Russia), Amalka Premadasa (Sri Lanka), Ashani Wick (Sri Lanka), Edith Chow (Hong Kong), Gayana Amiyangoda (UK/Sri Lanka), Maximilian Huttasch (Germany/Sweden), Michael Matheou (UK), Roxana Adriana Stoica (Romania), Simon Brackley (UK), Thanikai Kaisivakumar (Sri Lanka), Thomas Ebert (Germany)


Anne Clark, Amanda Adler, Apostolos Tsapas, David Dearlove, David Ray, Garry Tan, Hugh Davies, Katharine Owen, Leanne Hodson, Jane Cheeseman, Jonathan Levy, Mary Hata, Rustam Rea, Ruth Coleman, Yue Ruan and Toryn Poolman