Community, Research and Clinical Trials,

Clinical trials changing lives at LRH

People travelled from across Gippsland to attend a celebration of innovation, equality and life changing programs recently.

The International Clinical Trials Day event at Latrobe Regional Health showcased the stories of patients involved in clinical trials and the impact the local program has had on them.

“The Research and Clinical Trial Unit at LRH started in 2019 with only two trials, since then we’ve grown to over 30 clinical trials, all offering new treatment options to people across Gippsland,” General Manager of Research and Partnerships, Jhodie Duncan said.

Before the start of the trials program at LRH, Gippsland patients diagnosed with conditions ranging from arthritis to cancers to skin conditions would have to travel to Melbourne to access any new treatments.

“The journeys to Melbourne are time consuming, expensive and stressful for the patient and their family. One of the benefits about having clinical trials available here in Gippsland is that the stress and cost is taken away or at least lessened for the participant,” Jhodie said.

Clinical trials are often conducted in partnership with hospitals in Melbourne, such as The Alfred Hospital and are selected by LRH where there is a demonstrated need in the local community.

“We’re able to look at the data and see that condition A or disease B is of a higher incidence in Gippsland than we might expect. Once we identify those issues, we can explore what options are available with our trial partners, commence recruitment to the trial and then move forward to be able to offer an alternative care option for local residences.”

“Trials, such as the ones we are involved in at LRH give regional patients access to the latest treatments well before they are available to the general public. These can, without doubt, be life changing for some people,” Jhodie said.

Willow Grove’s Nick Johnson has been part of a clinical trial since 2020 after being diagnosed with bowel cancer.

“I signed up to the trial because all current-day treatments have been as a result of some trial or research over the years and I wanted to contribute to assist future treatments if I was able to.

“I also wanted to give back to the health system in some way as a way of ‘thanks for my treatment’, Nick said.

Another aspect of Nick’s decision was the ability to forge strong and supportive relationships with a local care team.

“Being on this trial meant that I did not have to endure the stresses of having to travel to hospital to receive IV Chemo, along with any side-effects that may have been a result of that treatment. As we know, IV chemo is not always kind on your body – both mentally and physically. My condition was able to be closely monitored with regular scans and blood tests, and at a local facility and not having to travel to the city for this. It is often a whole day out of work and life to travel to the city and being done locally was great. It was good to have a good rapport with the local hospital care team who was and still is there for me. They have my back,” Nick said.

More information about the LRH Clinical Trials Program can be found at

Pictured L-R: Dr Jhodie Duncan, General Manager Research and Partnerships, Research Unit. Anita Raymond, Executive Director Education, Research & Governance. Dr Amanda Ormerod, Haematologist. Nick Johnson, Clinical Trial Participant. Mr Don McRae, Chief Executive LRH.