Trials Research and Methodologies Unit- TRAMS

Contact: Dr. Frances Shiely

Director of Education; Prog. Director MSc Clinical Trials

TRAMS places trial methodological research at the heart of clinical trials.  Our aim is to build capacity in trial methodology for the improvement of clinical trial efficiency, with the ultimate goal of delivering better treatments and improving quality of life and health outcomes in patients. TRAMS maps directly to the CRF-UCC vision and the strategic goals of the College of Medicine and Health, UCC and the HRB.

Dr. Frances Shiely is the Director of TRAMS. If you wish to get involved in methodological research within your own discipline, contact Frances at Methodological research is feasible within all study types, not just clinical trials, e.g., cohort studies, case-control studies, and cross-sectional studies. Funders welcome methodological research embedded in larger research proposals. The purpose of methodological research is to improve our processes and hence make our research more efficient, leading to less research waste and better patient outcomes.

The Team:


Ellen Murphy, PhD Student

Name: Ellen Murphy

Education: BSc Public Health (First Class Honours) from University College Cork.

Biography: : Ellen Murphy graduated with a BSc (First Class Honours) in Public Health from University College Cork in 2020. She was previously awarded a HRB TMRN Summer Scholarship, 2019, which started her interest in clinical trial methodology research. She is currently a Research Assistant at the HRB Clinical Research Facility University College Cork. She works with Dr. Frances Shiely. In September Ellen will be starting a PhD on trial methodology. She will focus on communication in clinical trials across the lifecycle. Ellen was recently awarded her first grant as a co-applicant to the UCC LTA Enhancement Fund. The project is entitled “How to read and grade a research paper and the evidence for why”.

Current Project: Ellen is currently working on a costing project, costing the top ten most routinely used participant retention strategies for RCTs in the United Kingdom. She is also working as a collaborator on the Health Research Board Trials Methodology Research Network EXCELSIOR project (EXploring the ComplExity and Language of ConsSent and participation InfOrmation in Randomised Controlled Trials).  As well as this Ellen works on two SWAT projects; “Effects of a multi-trial programmable animation platform on the efficiency and success of pre-screening and subsequent recruitment to a randomised trial” and “Does patients’ guided self-reflection on their illness increase engagement with and recruitment to clinical trials: a mixed-methods study within a trial (SWAT)”.


Kerrie Lousie Gallagher

Name: Kerrie Lousie Gallagher

Education: Third-year Bachelor of Science in Public Health Sciences.

Biography: Kerrie is a mature student from Cork City. Kerrie is a Quercus College Scholar for the years 2019/2020 and 2020/2021, she is working towards a research-based career in public health. Epidemiology, the determinants of health and medical sociology would be Kerrie’s main academic interests.

Current Project: Title: How to read and grade a research paper and the evidence for why. Project Details: Research paper/report writing is a key skill for all health researchers.  The craft of writing this report can be challenging and teaching the craft is even more challenging.  Most healthcare research papers are written in IMRAD format: Introduction, Methods, Results And Discussion, but when it comes to teaching paper/report writing, it is unclear where the emphasis should be. Literature suggests that when deciding if a paper is worth reading, you should do so based on the design of the methods section. However, there is no evidence that this is what happens in practice. The questions when teaching are thus: should one place more emphasis on particular sections? how does one assess the research paper/report? what marks should be assigned to each section? We will answer these questions.


Curriculum Development of Human Clinical Trials for the Next Generation Biomedical Students – CONSCIOUS

Curriculum Development of Human Clinical Trials for the Next Generation of PhD Students and Early Career Researchers – CONSCIOUS II

Developing New Curriculum Outlines and Learning Materials on Climate Change’s Health Impacts for Medical Schools – CLIMATEMED

Precision Medicine Education for Clinical Implementation and Science Excellence in Medical Training” (PRECISEMED)

Learning about Clinical Trials

A useful resource on the MRC-NIHR TMRP webpage, aims to raise awareness and understanding of trials methodology research including how it can benefit patients.

Access the “What is Trials Methodology Research?” webpage here.



Coronavirus (COVID-19)

In light of the Covid-19 situation, in advance of attending for a scheduled patient visit, please confirm the visit with your research nurse.