ABS Research Sandpit

The ABS Academic & Research Committee are inviting members with a trial idea to bring this to the ABS Research Sandpit for advice on further design, development and seeking funding.

The ABS Academic & Research Committee are inviting members with a trial idea to bring this to the ABS Research Sandpit for advice on further design, development and seeking funding.

The ABS Academic & Research Committee would like to hear research proposals from our members to address clinical questions that you feel are currently relevant. The A&R Committee includes experienced clinical trialists, researchers, and members of research groups such as the NCRI Breast Clinical Studies Group and therefore will be able to provide input to help refine and develop proposals, including identifying possible key collaborators and funding streams. We are happy to hear trial ideas at any stage of their development, from a concept through to a more developed trial design, addressing any aspect of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment of relevance to breast surgeons.

Please note that the ABS Research Sandpit is designed as a forum for feedback, discussion and comment and are independent from badging and endorsement by ABS. Criteria for badging and endorsement can be found here

ABS Research Sandpits are run two times per year. The next Sandpit Session will take place on 17th October 2023, 1.30-2.30pm and will be a Zoom session.

When to attend a sandpit session

1) Very early - when you think you have a research question and have done the background research, so know what has already been done, but are unsure of study design (audit / cohort / prospective / retrospective / RCT etc.) and if this is feasible. We can recommend collaborators and possible sources of funding.

2) At later stage to fine tune design e.g. inclusion/exclusion criteria, endpoints, translational research ideas.

Either of these times is appropriate and some trials may benefit from discussion at both stages. This is not a 'hoop to jump through' but independent and free help and advice from an experienced audience, because we want to see quality research delivered in breast surgery.

Before the session:

  • Presenters must request a slot a minimum of 28 days before the next Sandpit session
  • Presenter will be accepted on a first come first served basis. We can have a maximum of 4 presenters in each sandpit session
  • A summary of the proposed trial must be submitted which members of the panel can read before the day of presentation. The template for the trial summary is appendix 1 and must be received at least 14 days before the sandpit session. This will allow time for the organisers to ensure there is the correct level of expertise present at the sandpit session
  • The date of the sandpit sessions will be arranged at the main A&R committee meeting. 2 weeks before the sandpit session the trial summaries will be circulated to all committee members who will be asked to confirm if they will be attending. At this point if there is a member of the committee who has a specific interest in a study they can volunteer as lead
  • One of the A&R Committee members with the relevant expertise will be confirmed as lead for each submission at the start of the sandpit session. They will chair the discussion for the project and will be responsible for providing written feedback

Rules on the day:

  • Presenters should speak for 10 minutes and limit their presentation to 5 slides
  • Presenters must know how to share slides virtually
  • There will then be 15 minutes discussion with the panel
  • This will be followed by a further 10 minutes of discussion with presenter not present whilst the panel document feedback. The designated member of the panel who is lead for the proposal will summarise the discussion and feedback
  • In order for the session to be quorate there should be at least 4 A&R committee members present. Ideally there will be trainee representation from the Mammary Fold and nursing representation present. Specific expertise e.g. .CTU representation, may be extremely valuable and if there are no A&R Committee members with the relevant experience and contacts then an independent panel member may be invited
  • During the session committee members will be asked to complete a short feedback form and email it to the lead for the project at the end of the session. (Appendix 2)

After the sandpit session:

  • Written feedback will be sent within 14 days
  • The nominated lead contact will be available for further advice
  • The trial can be re-presented at a subsequent sandpit session if further advice is required
  • The presenter will also be asked to complete a short feedback questionnaire on their experience of the sandpit session. (Appendix 4)

Written feedback:

  • The lead committee member for the study will complete the formal feedback form (see appendix 3) after analysing the short feedback forms from the other committee members and circulate to the other committee members for additional comments as soon as possible after the meeting. Once this has been done and the feedback form has been completed it will be sent to the presenter


For more information about how the sandpit sessions work and the assistance they can offer you may wish to read Mr Tim Rattay's article on taking a proposal to one of the sessions.  To download the article please click here

For information about when the next session is being held or to discuss further, please contact Lena Sebova at lenasebova@absgbi.org.uk