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The Medical Research Council Prize Committee has awarded the RECOVERY trial team the MRC Impact Prize 2022 for Outstanding Team Impact. The award was presented by Professor John Iredale, Interim Executive Chair of the Medical Research Council, and Catherine Law, Professor of Public Health and Epidemiology at UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, and accepted by members of the trial team at the MRC Prizes 2022 Awards ceremony in Birmingham on 14 March 2023.

The RECOVERY Trial is the world’s largest study of COVID-19 therapies. It was launched in UK hospitals at the start of the pandemic, only nine days after the idea was first conceived. Within three months, the trial had delivered the first major breakthrough in the COVID-19 response – the finding that the inexpensive steroid, dexamethasone, reduced deaths by up to a third. In the following nine months, this result saved an estimated million lives worldwide.

Since launching, RECOVERY has identified three other effective COVID-19 treatments, and shown that seven others are ineffective, enabling healthcare services to prioritise their resources and saving patients from being exposed to ineffective or harmful treatments. The trial has recruited over 48,000 participants, and expanded to seven countries in Africa and Asia.

The multi-disciplinary, cross-organisation team includes experts in clinical trial design, infectious diseases, statistics, data analysis, software development, and communications and public engagement. The trial is delivered by many thousands of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and research administrators in 200 hospitals. It has been supported by staff in the NIHR Clinical Research Networks, NHS and governmental bodies, collaborators in the UK and internationally, the pharmaceutical companies that provided study treatments, and our funders including the MRC.

The Outstanding Team Impact prize celebrates an inspiring and successful team of individuals whose collaborative team science approach has made an outstanding contribution in medical research. The prize recognises that complex and pressing human  health and research challenges are best tackled by teams with a diverse range of expertise and skills focussing on a shared goal. It recognises the essential contributions made by all those participating in research. 

Richard Haynes, Professor of Renal Medicine and Clinical Trials at Oxford Population Health and the coordinator of the RECOVERY trial, said ‘Clinical trials are critical for good healthcare and RECOVERY has demonstrated that they can be fast, inclusive, simple, and impactful.

‘The RECOVERY trial is a truly collaborative effort that goes far beyond the team here at Oxford University. This award recognises the commitment of all those involved, particularly the participants who made it possible at such a difficult time in their lives. The trial would not have been possible without the dedication and support of everyone involved.’

The trial team will receive an award of £20,000 which will be used to develop training materials and to support further public and patient involvement activities.