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Andrew Fulton, Barts and the London School of Dentistry student, receives prestigious HealthWatch prize from broadcaster Nick Ross

28 October 2015

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With so much contradictory information about health in the media, even trained health professionals can find it hard to interpret the results of new research. That’s not the case for Andrew Fulton (Barts and the London School of Dentistry) student. He has just received first place and a cheque for £500 as a winner the UK-wide HealthWatch Student Prize competition in which students are invited to show their skills in assessing research protocols.  

Andrew Fulton, 30, London, BDS year 4, received his award from journalist and broadcaster Nick Ross at an awards ceremony held at The Medical Society of London on Tuesday 20th October. The presentation of the student awards formed part of an evening programme in which Dr Mark Porter MBE, GP and presenter of BBC Radio 4 flagship medical series “Inside Health”, also received an award for his media work which spans 23 years – as long, in fact, as the charity HealthWatch has been in existence.

HealthWatch is a UK medical charity which promotes the proper scientific testing of all types of medical treatments, from orthodox to complementary and alternative medicine. Nick Ross is HealthWatch’s president. Open annually to nursing and medical students from across the UK, the HealthWatch Student Prize is part of HealthWatch’s campaign to create awareness amongst healthcare providers, the general public and the media that well-designed clinical trials are the best way of producing effective treatments.

The competition, which this year was generously sponsored by Cambridge University Press, requires entrants to read and critique plans for four hypothetical clinical trials. This year the research topics included ideas for experiments testing Omega 3 supplement for children’s reading skills, and bee venom for rheumatoid arthritis.

Andrew’s prize-winning entry critically appraised the quality of the protocols, providing reasons why he thought the results would or would not stand up in the scientific community, explaining his reasoning throughout.

HealthWatch committee member and organiser of the competition Walli Bounds, herself a clinical research scientist at University College London, said, "It is essential that our future doctors and nurses are taught the key features of well-designed clinical trials, so they can distinguish between valid research findings and poor-quality or misleading results. This competition aims to encourage students to test their knowledge about what proper scientific testing entails, and thus lead to better patient care."



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