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The Medical Research Council (MRC) Prize Committee has named the RECOVERY trial team as one of three finalists in the inaugural MRC Impact Prize: Outstanding Team Impact category. 

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. Professor Sir Peter Horby, Joint Chief Investigator of RECOVERY, said ‘The RECOVERY trial is a truly collaborative effort that goes far beyond the team here at Oxford University. This nomination recognises the commitment of all those involved; the trial would not have been possible without their dedication and support.’

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 hugely impressive and humbling. We are proud to be recognising scientific teams and individuals making a global difference to advance medical research.’

Other finalists in the Outstanding Team Impact category are:

  • The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) for addressing the impact of poor menstrual health and hygiene on adolescent schoolgirls and interventions to improve girls’ health and equity. LSTM conducted a study on the use of menstrual cups in Kenya that has since informed Kenyan health policy and been used globally including leading to the formation of the Menstrual Cup Coalition. 
  • The University of Nottingham for ‘next generation imaging of human brain function’. The University developed a new lightweight and wearable brain scanner for research into epilepsy and autism that has improved sensitivity and is cheaper to buy and maintain.  

The results will be announced in March 2023 when the MRC will also announce the winners of the Open Science and Early Career Impact prizes. Neuroscientist and neurologist Professor Sarah Tabrizi and biotechnologist Professor Lisa Hall will both receive the MRC Millennium Medal, the MRC’s most prestigious personal prize, at the ceremony.