"There is nothing better than hearing the success stories: the real people who have benefitted from taking part in a clinical trial and surviving beyond the odds… I like to witness the passion in the pursuit of greater understanding of the diseases we seek to understand and eradicate, knowing that I can help in a small but meaningful way."Tell us about your career path since graduation.
I spent many years in Plymouth prior to graduating, working in various catering and retail jobs. I moved to Hampshire straight after graduation and joined ICON a couple of years later. Since joining ICON I have gained a wide-ranging understanding of the clinical research industry, although my specialism is starting up clinical trials and the various regulatory and ethical bodies that approve research. Today, my role involves identifying and rolling out new technology and processes to support the project teams at ICON.
Has your career path changed since graduation?
Yes, when I graduated I imagined a career in an NGO or international government agency; however, despite a brief foray working in local government, I soon discovered that clinical research offered some compelling incentives. The work I am involved with directly influences the speed at which emerging, experimental, new drugs reach patients in need of new treatment options. Specifically for my role, for every week that we take off the process of obtaining approvals to start trials we maximise the potential for positive clinical outcomes for patients, and that is the motivation that keeps me turning up for work every day.
What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?
At the start of my career I was a bit intimidated by the education level of most of my colleagues, as Clinical Research attracts very highly qualified people. However, I soon learnt that for every MD or PhD lab technician there needs to be other skill sets in the team to ensure the overall success of a clinical trial. So, the degree in international relations did come in handy after all.
What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?
There is nothing better than hearing the success stories: the real people who have benefitted from taking part in a clinical trial and surviving beyond the odds. I also enjoy the travel and I have had many opportunities to meet with companies across the world that develop new drug and treatment options. I like to witness the passion in the pursuit of greater understanding of the diseases we seek to understand and eradicate, knowing that I can help in a small but meaningful way.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?
Learn the basics, the regulations, adherence to protocol and attention to detail. Clinical Research is one of those industries where the rule book is not thrown out of the window once studying is over. Clinical research professionals eat, live and breathe the regulations so it is an excellent foundation to learn before you start looking for a role.
How did studying at Plymouth help you?
One of the most useful concepts I learnt at Plymouth was critical thinking. It is a mind-set I apply every day of my working life. Although clinical research is heavily regulated there is scope for innovation, so I am always asking why we do things the way we do and is there a better, faster way without compromising patient safety.