null Building an inclusive clinical trial community

An innovative new unit at the RI-MUHC supports health researchers in launching and conducting impactful clinical trials

February 28, 2024

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At the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), a group called the Accelerating Clinical Trials – Clinical Trial Unit (ACT-CTU) is on its way to building a model clinical trial community. One year into its mission, the unit has ambitious initiatives. “Our aim is to help more researchers understand the benefits of clinical trials in addressing research questions that are important to their patients,” says Dr. Sushmita Pamidi, co-chair of the ACT-CTU and a scientist at the RI-MUHC. “High-quality clinical trials can have lasting impacts on the health of our patients at the MUHC and worldwide.”

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) awarded a total of $55 million to the ACT consortium projects led or co-led by RI-MUHC researchers in January 2023. The ACT-CTU at the RI-MUHC has a leadership role within this national partnership as part of the Accelerating Clinical Trials (ACT) Canada Consortium ( This broad initiative aims to boost the impact of clinical trials in Canada, with sights set on a global leadership role for Canadian health research.

Dr. Sushmita Pamidi and Dr. Louise Pilote, Co-chairs of the Accelerating Clinical Trials – Clinical Trial Unit (ACT-CTU) at the RI-MUHC, and ACT-CTU Project Manager Amanda Lovato (left to right)
Dr. Sushmita Pamidi and Dr. Louise Pilote, Co-chairs of the Accelerating Clinical Trials – Clinical Trial Unit (ACT-CTU) at the RI-MUHC, and ACT-CTU Project Manager Amanda Lovato (left to right)

The RI-MUHC ACT-CTU is co-chaired by researchers Dr. Louise Pilote, a general internist, scientist in the Cardiovascular Health Across the Lifespan Program, RI-MUHC, and professor in the Department of Medicine at McGill University, and Dr. Sushmita Pamidi, a respirologist, scientist and associate leader of the Translational Research in Respiratory Diseases Program at the RI-MUHC. A steering committee with broad representation advises on the needs and directions of the unit.

Leveraging team science

In December, the ACT-CTU invited RI-MUHC researchers to a Think Tank event, designed to gather feedback on how best to support clinical trialists at the RI-MUHC.

“One of the key elements of the Think Tank presentation was our intent to build a clinical trial community at the RI-MUHC,” says Amanda Lovato, RI-MUHC ACT-CTU Project Manager. “Not only do we plan to provide support to both new and seasoned trialists, but we also aim to connect local investigators with trialists and patients from the broader pan-Canadian trial network. By leveraging team science, we’re confident that we can align our unit with the overall ACT mandate to carve a place for Canada as a world leader in clinical trial activity, as well as design and implementation.”

Support for clinical research

To support trialists, the ACT-CTU is preparing the following initiatives:

  • clinical trial rounds for knowledge sharing;
  • protocol review sessions to spark open discussions on new trial proposals;
  • hiring of key shared staff members: a methodologist for assistance with trial design planning, and a regulatory specialist to navigate research ethics boards, contracts and Health Canada submissions;
  • liaising with other CTUs and portfolio hospitals across Canada to promote national collaborations;
  • fostering equity, diversity and inclusion through the inclusion of more diverse recruitment sites in new studies;
  • cataloguing of important, institution-specific information to better inform the RI-MUHC community about local resources and partners for the enhancement of their trials;
  • access to a Clinical Trial Management System; and
  • financial support for internal pilot clinical trials.

In early 2024, the ACT-CTU will launch an internal call for clinical trials to serve as flagship studies for the RI-MUHC’s model community. The selected trials will benefit from seed funding and priority access to ACT-CTU resources to launch or advance their clinical studies.

“To build a clinical trial community that encourages the exchange of ideas and best practices, it’s strategic to gather experts and staff in a common area,” says Dr. Pilote. “To this end, we are offering desk space at the Centre for Outcomes Research and Evaluation to interested trialists and their teams. We look forward to building the RI-MUHC Clinical Trial Unit together!”

RI-MUHC researchers with questions, comments, or an interest in becoming a member of the ACT-CTU may contact Amanda Lovato at


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