Collaborating for success – an interview with Dr. Mo Yin of ADVANCE-ID
Collaboration and transparency play a pivotal role in getting the maximum benefit from research. In clinical trials, this involves building and sustaining the trust of partner organizations, clinical communities, participants, and the wider public.
In this instalment of #GoodTrialsGrapevine, Dr. Mo Yin, Deputy Director of ADVANcing Clinical Evidence in Infectious Diseases (ADVANCE-ID), a leading clinical trials network based in Southeast Asia, shares her valuable insights into the benefits of collaboration, including boosting the quality and efficiency of clinical research in the diverse region of Asia.
ADVANCE-ID is a great example of institutional partnership and collaboration. Can you tell us more about why ADVANCE-ID was set up and what it hopes to achieve?
ADVANCE-ID is a leading clinical trial network in Asia based at the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore (NUS). Spanning over 50 hospitals across the region, we are focused on conducting innovative and pragmatic large-scale randomized controlled trials for diagnosing and treating infectious diseases, especially in low- and middle-income countries where the need is most urgent. Our ultimate goal is to effectively combat infectious diseases through transnational, capacity-building research collaborations.
Our work is supported by grants from Wellcome, a global charitable foundation, and governed by founding partners which include Wellcome, University of Oxford (United Kingdom), Mahidol University (Thailand), NUS (Singapore), Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), Tan Tock Seng Hospital (Singapore) and Christian Medical College Vellore (India).
What are the benefits of collaborative approaches in clinical trial networks?
Collaboration within clinical trial networks is integral to boosting the efficiency and quality of clinical research worldwide. This holds even greater significance in Asia given its diverse cultural, political and socioeconomic landscapes, as well as the common threat of infectious diseases.
The benefits of collaboration are multifold. For one, collaboration enhances communication among stakeholders, facilitating information and knowledge sharing as well as improving decision making and problem-solving capabilities. Secondly, collaborative approaches optimize resource utilization through the sharing of infrastructure and expertise, resulting in cost reduction and streamlined processes. Additionally, collaboration provides wider access to diverse expertise, promotes innovation, and elevates the quality of trials. Moreover, involving patients, caregivers and advocacy groups across our network ensures their perspectives and needs are represented, enabling our researchers to design trials that prioritize their experiences and make results more relevant for future patient care.
In what ways are ADVANCE-ID clinicians working collaboratively?
Within ADVANCE-ID, clinicians engage and collaborate with one another actively across multiple areas. They work closely together on the development of research protocols, identifying evidence gaps and collaboratively designing protocols to address those gaps. As education and training are major focuses within our network, we organize numerous events and initiatives each year, including seminars, workshops and visits, so that our clinicians can gather, learn from one another and share best practices. Our expert panels also continuously update and develop patient diagnostics and treatment guidelines, which are widely shared across the network to promote alignment of clinical practices and foster a cohesive approach to patient care.
Are there any challenges to collaboration across different countries and resource-settings in Asia? How can these challenges be overcome?
Indeed, because of its diverse landscapes, collaborating across Asia can be very complex! The challenges include language barriers, cultural differences, varying regulatory requirements and resource disparities.
We actively foster culture awareness and understanding with regular online and face-to-face interactions among our clinicians. Engaging with regulators early on is a key strategy to navigate the varying regulatory landscapes effectively. Additionally, we promote resource and expertise sharing with institutions in low-resource settings to bridge resource disparities. We have also established effective leadership and governance frameworks to facilitate coordination and decision making.
In addition to these solutions, maintaining open communication among all stakeholders, remaining flexible as well as being willing to adapt are crucial to successfully addressing the challenges of collaboration in a diverse region like Asia.