Newcastle University: NIHR launches innovative searchable database of global clinical trials

The National Institute for Health Research’s Innovation Observatory, at Newcastle University, has launched a database of clinical trials and approved medical devices, diagnostics and digital tools.

Designed as a free resource for researchers, clinicians and members of the public, ScanMedicine draws from 11 major clinical trial databases across the globe, and pulls information on medical devices, diagnostics and digital apps from the FDA database.

It allows users to effortlessly access up-to-date information about what research is in progress in their area of interest, and what new medicines, devices and diagnostics are on the horizon.

Using cloud-based services to collate and present the most up-to-date data in a readily accessible format, ScanMedicine is a highly innovative tool that provides users with the ability filter results by trial type, phase, registry and more, as well as being able to view their search as visualisations and infographics for a ‘quick-look’ version of their results.

Crucially, by drawing the data from so many sources into one place, there is no need for users to repeat searches on multiple registries or check for duplicate trials, which should result in considerable time savings.


Health research has never been more prominent, important or widespread. So what better time to launch a highly innovative and dynamic one-stop-shop for global medical innovation
Professor Dawn Craig, Director of the NIHR Innovation Observatory

Overview of trials
The hope is that researchers will be able to quickly understand what trials are already underway in their field, and so assist with avoiding unnecessary duplication, future research planning and building collaborations at home and abroad.

Results can be visualised in several ways to quickly obtain an overview of ongoing trials in an area, and identify gaps and trends.

Professor Dawn Craig, Director of the NIHR Innovation Observatory said: “Health research has never been more prominent, important or widespread. So what better time to launch a highly innovative and dynamic one-stop-shop for global medical innovation that will prove invaluable to researchers and patients alike by providing a single access point to a world of intelligence.

“The culmination of many months of hard work, this advanced online search engine will allow anyone and everyone to navigate real-time research in an in-depth and visually engaging way, and we hope that by shining a light on the global innovation pipeline, we can inject value into our health systems and support development in areas of unmet need.”

Horizon scanning
As well as providing a real-time data resource, ScanMedicine will assist with the Innovation Observatory’s continuing mission to ‘horizon scan’ future medicines, devices and diagnostics to help shape policy, regulation, approvals and stimulate research activity.

Through the use of the engine’s highly innovative visualisation and infographic tools, which allow the user to understand the number and status of studies in any given research area, researchers can assess existing and emerging worldwide trends in research. And as ScanMedicine also enables searches as far back as 1995, the tool can also be used to understand historic trends.

Maria Pokora, Digital Programme Manager at NIHR Innovation Observatory said: “Our aim is to ensure that ScanMedicine is a crucial horizon scanning resource for all of its users. Through continued feedback and improvement cycles, we are developing a user-friendly and fit for purpose tool, which will form part of the essential horizon scanning toolkit.”

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