The Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) holds a strong philosophy that clinical trials are not supplementary or an adjunct to patient care – they are patient care.

On any given day, enrolment in a clinical trial may be the optimal treatment for our patients, and therefore it is imperative that we continue to build our research footprint. With that in mind, The Royal Melbourne has made considerable investment in expanding our clinical trials capacity, including the opening of the dedicated multidisciplinary Clinical Trials Centre in June 2017. Our partnerships with sponsors, contract research organisations and collaborators is crucial to bringing clinical trials of promising new drugs and devices to the Royal Melbourne, and we remain committed to strengthening these relationships.

Clinical trials capacity

The Royal Melbourne Hospital currently has more than 300 active clinical trials - with 91 new trials approved in the last year. We have a longstanding track record in conducting clinical trials across many health disciplines, particularly in:

  • anaesthesia and pain management
  • cancer
  • cardiac-electrophysiology
  • cardio-thoracic
  • colorectal medicine
  • dermatology
  • endocrinology
  • gastroenterology
  • haematology
  • hepatology
  • ​immunology and allergy
  • infectious disease
  • mental health
  • neurosciences
  • respiratory medicine
  • nephrology
  • ophthalmology
  • urology

In addition, we have the capacity to undertake trials in all phases - ranging from first in human through to phase IV.

The success of our clinical trials has led to improvements in health practice and policy both here at RMH and elsewhere. We work with an array of multinational pharmaceutical, biotechnology and device companies as well as contract research organisations to provide information to regulatory bodies such as the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the Food and Drug Administration.

Why partner with the Royal Melbourne Hospital?

RMH Clinical Trials Centre

The RMH opened its Clinical Trials Centre (CTC) to patients in June 2017. The CTC was formally opened by the Victorian Health Minister, Hon. Jill Hennessy. With only a very small number of dedicated clinical trials centres throughout Australia, this is a significant milestone for the RMH.

The CTC caters for clinical trials across almost all therapeutic disciplines, with the exception of cancer clinical trials which are primarily undertaken across the road at the Parkville Cancer Clinical Trials Unit located in the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre. With opening hours of 7.30 am - 4.30 pm weekdays, the CTC is comprised of:

  • eight treatment bays
  • three procedure rooms
  • two clinician consulting rooms
  • a comfortable and contemporary waiting room area for trial patients and their family members
  • a sophisticated pathology preparation room (including two centrifuges, biohazard cabinet, refrigerator, two freezers and specimen chute)

There is a large workstation area within the CTC with a satellite desk assigned to each of the major research departments, as well as a Monitors Room directly across the hallway from the CTC to ensure that clinical research associates from our industry partners are properly accommodated.

In December 2017, the RMH Clinical Trials Pharmacy was relocated to be adjacent to the CTC. This has helped to ensure a fully integrated approach and increased cohesion in the management of our trials.

For enquiries about the CTC or to arrange a tour of the facilities, please contact the Clinical Research Manager.

RMH's large recruitment pool

The RMH is one of Victoria's leading public healthcare services, serving more than 1 million Melburnians as well as regional and rural Victorians and interstate patients.

  • 92,662 people discharged from the RMH in 2015/16
  • 178,061 outpatient appointments in 2015/16
  • 68,523 people presented to the RMH emergency department in 2015/16
  • RMH is the only accredited level 1 Trauma Centre in Victoria - benchmarked against major trauma centres around the world
  • RMH provides the fastest emergency stroke treatment in Australia - door to needle time treatment in 25 minutes
  • More than 800 staff involved in clinical research across all disciplines
  • More than 200 new human research studies approved each year
  • Around 1500 active human research studies underway, of which more than 300 are clinical trials

RMH is a leading player in the development of research entities and groups through partnerships with foundations, research institutes, universities, health services and government to foster and promote medical research locally. The RMH is based in the heart of the leading Melbourne Biomedical Precinct, which has established itself as a major global research and teaching powerhouse with a formidable history of ground breaking major discoveries and developments.

ACRF Centre for Translational Research - Established with a $1 million grant from the ACRF, the Centre provides a seamless link between the Bone Marrow Research Laboratories and Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, and The Royal Melbourne’s Diagnostic Haematology Laboratory and clinical services.

ACRF Centre for Therapeutic Target Discovery - Lead by the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and located at RMH City Campus, this centre is a collaboration designed to maximise shared resources for the purpose of conducting highly innovative cancer research. The consortium in the initial phase included the Royal Women's, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and the University of Melbourne.

BioGrid Australia Limited - BioGrid Australia operates a federated data sharing platform for collaborative translational health and medical research providing a secure infrastructure that advances health research by linking privacy-protected and ethically approved data among a wide network of health collaborators including major partner, the RMH.

Biomedical Research Victoria - This group is the state’s leading network of universities, academic hospitals, medical research institutes, CSIRO and other research organisations. Biomedical Research Victoria’s vision is for the Victorian health and medical research sector to be a global leader in innovation, to improve health and to create wealth. Formerly known as the Bio21 Cluster, Biomedical Research Victoria was established in 2001 as an initiative of the three Founding Members, the University of Melbourne, Melbourne Health and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, and the State Government of Victoria to support the development of Victoria’s fledgling biotechnology industry.

Doherty Institute - The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity is a joint venture between the University of Melbourne and the Royal Melbourne Hospital. There are four separate units of the Doherty which have a presence within the RMH – Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL); WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza; Victorian Infectious Diseases Service (VIDS); and, Victorian Healthcare Associated Infection Surveillance System.

Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration - Also known as MARC, Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration aims to improve the lives of older people through the rapid translation of research into policy and practice to influence systemic change. MARC is a unique consortium of partners, bringing together health and aged care services, universities, research and advocacy organisations, and the broader community.

Melbourne Brain Centre – The Melbourne Brain Centre, based at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, are the largest brain research group in the Southern Hemisphere. With more than 500 research and support staff on two campuses, their scientists are searching for cures to the complex, debilitating and sometimes life threatening brain disorders that affect three million Australians. Research at the Centre is focused on the prevention, early diagnosis and early disease indicators/biomarkers, and treatment of brain disorders including stroke, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and movement disorders, psychiatric disorders, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, neurodegenerative disorders, and brain tumours.

Melbourne Genomics Health Alliance - Together, the Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Royal Children’s Hospital, the University of Melbourne, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, the CSIRO, the Australian Genome Research Facility, the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Austin Health and Monash Health are forging a path forward for patients, clinicians and researchers to benefit from the enormous potential of genomics.The alliance is dedicated to bringing the global knowledge of genomics to benefit the individual care of Victorians, and the vision is for Victoria to be a world leader in using genomics in healthcare.

MSBase Registry - The MSBase Registry is a unique international collaboration dedicated to sharing, tracking and evaluating outcomes data in multiple sclerosis (MS) and other neuroimmunological diseases. The MSBase Foundation has collaborated with participating MS physicians and their healthcare teams to collate the largest international repository of longitudinal, 'real-world' MS patient data. The Registry commenced in 2004 and has accumulated over 76,000 patient records from 37 participating countries. The RMH MS Centre is the largest Australian contributor of data to the registry, and the CORe (Clinical Outcomes Research unit) has led some of the most impactful research that originated from this collaboration.

University Partners - We have strong relationships with leading academic institutions across clinical specialties for undergraduate students, staff, postgraduate students and external health professionals. Our enduring partnership with The University of Melbourne has been in place for nearly 150 years.

The Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre - The Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) was established in 2009 and is a powerful alliance of ten successful Victorian organisations committed to cancer control: Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne Health (including The Royal Melbourne Hospital), The University of Melbourne, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, The Royal Women’s Hospital, The Royal Children’s Hospital, Western Health, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne (including St Vincent's Institute), Austin Health (including the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute and Austin Lifesciences) and Murdoch Children's Research Institute.

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute - The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute is Australia's oldest medical research institute. It was founded in 1915 with financial support from a trust established by Eliza Hall, following the death of her husband Walter. The vision was for an institute that 'will be the birthplace of discoveries rendering signal service to mankind in the prevention and removal of disease and the mitigation of suffering'. The Institute is affiliated with The Royal Melbourne Hospital and the University of Melbourne.

Western & Central Melbourne Integrated Cancer Service - Commonly known as WCMICS, the service is a partnership between seven public health care organisations - the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, the Royal Women's Hospital, St Vincent's Hospital, Mercy Health, Western Health and Djerriwarrh Health Services - directed by the vision outlined in the WCMICS 2015-18 Strategic Plan and the Victorian Government's Cancer Action Plan.

Clinical trial facilitation service

RMH seeks to forge strategic alliances with study sponsors, CROs and collaborators to achieve successful outcomes for all parties particularly with respect to start-up timelines and participant enrolment.

The Clinical Trial Facilitation Service within the Office for Research at RMH provides guidance and support to researchers, sponsors and contract research organisations (CROs) to promote efficient start-up of clinical trials. The team provides assistance throughout the study start-up process from execution of confidentiality agreements and triage of feasibility review, through to oversight of ethics applications and negotiation of study budgets/contracts.

The Office for Research also manages the Clinical Trials page on the RMH website, which is a HREC approved listing of active and enrolling trials throughout the hospital. This page is aimed at the general public and in particular potential clinical trial patients and their loved ones, who are searching online for treatment options. The clinical trial listing is presented in clear and lay terms and with enough information to help guide whether eligibility is likely, but not so much information as to overwhelm the reader. Email and telephone contact details are provided for each trial listed for the respective study coordinator, so the interested party can follow up to learn more about the trial. This is further demonstration of the proactive and progressive approach of the team at RMH, to ensure that trial accrual prospects are optimised, and that awareness of our enrolling trials is high.

Contact the Clinical Research Manager to discuss clinical trial opportunities.

Streamlined processing of ethics and governance submissions

The RMH Office for Research has a strong track record of development and implementation of streamlining initiatives to ensure that all ethics and governance submissions are processed quickly and efficiently. We understand how important site activation and first-patient-in timelines are for our industry partners, and are committed to achieving “best in class” metrics.

As part of our strategy to support clinical trial activities, RMH has signed up with 11 partner organisations throughout Victoria to lead and coordinate the streamlining of ethical and governance reviews of human health research projects. The outcome of this streamlining initiative will see faster approval times for both ethics and governance submissions. Find out more about the streamlined ethics and governance review for multicentre studies.

The RMH was also proudly a member of the NHMRC Good Practice Process (GPP), alongside 15 other health organisations nationwide, which was an initiative to achieve quicker and more efficient research governance authorisation. Our participation in this program allowed us to further expedite our timelines by compressing our metrics right across the start-up spectrum from the first approach to discuss a new study through to the first patient being enrolled. Many of the learnings from our involvement in the GPP have now been implemented as part of our standard practices, and we continue to employ this methodology to fast-track the progress of new studies.

Research participation recorded hospital's patient administration system

Developed by the Office for Research, this research performance initiative aims to improve the safety of patients and to measure the performance of research projects undertaken by RMH staff.

This initiative ensures that every patient’s involvement in a research project is centrally and electronically recorded so that a patient’s participation in a research project will be automatically flagged to any staff member who may be involved in the care of that patient (such as if the patient unexpectedly presents to Emergency Department).

In addition, this initiative allows the RMH to report on the number of patients involved in research and assess how we actually perform against proposed recruitment targets set in the planning stages of a research project.

Supporting departments

As a major tertiary hospital, the RMH are fortunate to have the support of a wide range of supporting departments to ensure the effective management and coordination of clinical trials. At the Royal Melbourne, we offer more than 80 services with 350 specialist clinics for inpatients and outpatients across our two campuses. This includes: