The Global Health Trials/TDR Professional Development Scheme is mechanism for professional development that has been specifically designed for all researchers working in the field of global health. The aim of this scheme is to address the lack of recognition of research as a profession and to encourage career development and training opportunities for all types and levels of researchers and research staff.

The Professional Development Scheme (PDS) offered here provides a mechanism to capture core competencies, qualifications and training in order to accrue points and work up through five membership tiers. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have provided funding to WHO/TDR to develop this scheme in partnership with the Global Health Trials Programme. TDR is a Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases that is based at and executed by the World Health Organization (WHO), and is sponsored by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and WHO.

We welcome comments and feedback about the scheme, so please don't hesitate to get in touch at

Why is Professional Development Important and Necessary?

Membership of Professional Organisations and Continuing Professional Development is a common theme within many professions. In the field of clinical trials it is becoming widely expected for clinical research staff to have a formal record of their professional skills and experience. Here we refer to clinical research staff as individuals who are building a career in the conduct of clinical trials and clinical studies; be they a clinician, nurse, statistician, data manager, laboratory technician, field worker and so on. Here we offer an online system for accruing points, maintaining an audited record and gaining professional membership of this scheme. This system has been developed to capture qualifications, experience and training. A unique and key element is the capture of trial competencies, which are then scored according to skill level. This programme is free and we are working with organisations such as the University of Oxford to develop accreditation and validation. We aim for this to become an internationally recognised and respected professional body for those working on clinical trials in the field of global health.


In the development of the development scheme we have aimed for it to be appropriate for the full range of roles working within clinical research as well as experience and levels of seniority. Therefore, this scheme scores appropriately for a recent graduate in their first post right through to a director managing a large research centre. Membership is appropriate and beneficial for all working on clinical research and clinical trials. The programme provides a secure, validated and recognised record that will benefit the members as well as their employers, future employers and funding agencies.

How does it work?

Members of the scheme will receive an email every six months to prompt them to review and update their points. Every 12 months this email will also suggest that the member holds a review meeting with their line manager to discuss progress, training needs and their short, medium and long term goals. A form is provided for this annual review and this forms part of the CPD record. To maintain a valid CPD record it will be necessary for the members to update the form annually. If there is no activity on the form for longer than 12 months the member’s record will lapse and the points will be suspended.

Your record is private and will not be publically available. It can be saved as a file for you to print and use however you wish, for example in job or funding applications. The records are personal and the idea is that individuals should use them to manage, guide and plan their own career and professional development. Every 6 months you will receive an email prompting you to update your record and points. Every 12 months you will be sent a prompt to complete a review of your record with your line manager or a senior peer. These reviews are important as they will capture short, medium and long term training goals and career development objectives.

This professional development system has been carefully designed but continuous feedback and comments are important to ensure it is working optimally and in particular that the points system is fair and appropriate. There is an oversight committee in place to ensure that quality and accuracy is being maintained as well as the point system being rigorous and appropriate.


It is essential that this is a credible and respected scheme that research staff, their managers and potential employers can trust. All such schemes have some kind of validation system and audit capability. For this scheme we may ask for the email address of a referee or line manager and for documented evidence to be maintained for courses and qualifications. This then allows for quality spot checks to be carried out in order to validate the system and scoring. Therefore it is important that hardcopy records are maintained by individuals, examples are course and qualification certificates. The current objective is to validate 15% of those registered. This is in line with other systems and will be continuously reviewed.

This programme is tightly governed by an oversight committee made up of highly experienced experts from representative countries. This committee shall regularly review the audit system and results as well as approving the scoring system and management processes.