UK (University of Liverpool) COMET Initiative shortlisted for MRC Impact Prize

A University of Liverpool initiative that is helping to harmonise and improve the relevance of clinical trials has been shortlisted for an inaugural Medical Research Council (MRC) Impact Prize.

The Core Outcome Measures for Effectiveness Trials (COMET) Initiative is one of three finalists in the ‘Open Science Impact’ category, which recognises outstanding contributions to advancing open science in medical research.

COMET was co-founded in 2010 by Professor Paula Williamson and colleagues from the universities of Oxford, Bristol and Queen’s University Belfast. COMET brings together people interested in the development and application of agreed standardised sets of outcomes, known as ‘core outcome sets’ (COS), which represent the minimum that should be measured and reported in all clinical trials of a specific condition.

The initiative provides a publicly available and searchable database of COS for clinical trials that allows researchers and others to easily find which outcomes are recommended to measure. Since inception, there have been over 190,000 unique visitors to the website from 202 countries, and over 103,000 database searches.

COMET also provides resources and advice to groups developing COS to help them include patients and the public, who are now involved in nearly all studies compared to just 17% ten years ago.

Professor Williamson, who is based in the University’s Department of Health Data Science, said: “Everyone involved with COMET (the COMETEERs), those developing COS, and those encouraging the use of COS, will be delighted with this recognition. The good will and international collaboration that exists within our community has enabled a network with notable achievements to date, and one that will keep going to improve health care decision-making for patient benefit.”

Professor John Iredale, MRC Executive Chair said: “These MRC prizes pay tribute to some of the extraordinary impacts that science carried out by our research community in the UK and abroad have delivered for us all.

“The breadth of impact achieved by the finalists in our first MRC Impact Prize competition is also hugely impressive and humbling. We are proud to be recognising scientific teams and individuals making a global difference to advance medical research.”

The winners will receive a prize of up to £20,000 and will be announced at a dedicated MRC awards ceremony in spring 2023.

Image: Professor Paula Williamson (centre) alongside members of the COMET team.