I fell into the clinical research industry quite by accident, starting as a temp in drug safety about 13 years ago. I had been made redundant from a previous role and so applied for all sorts of roles over the next few months eventually becoming successful as an administrator on the ICON Site Investigator Services team, now known as Study Start-Up.
To cut my career history short, I worked my way up roles, had two children and decided on my return from maternity leave number two that I wanted to try something different and with less of a commute. So, I found a role at my local NHS research facility, a specialised unit for phase I and paediatric research, and truly started to love what we do.
Working directly on a unit that delivered research really enabled me to see the impact and engage with the difference research can make, not just the budget negotiations or SIV dates. On my first day I was shown around the entire R&D department and walked into an office full of research nurses. A whole office! I think my new colleague thought I had lost my mind when my eyes turned into saucers, and I exclaimed “There’s so many of them!” I hastily explained that the study I left in my previous role had no assigned RN and the PI had been collecting the required documents. Some of you will now be rocking slightly as you read that…
My most engaging moment had to be meeting a patient. I had spent six months working on opening a study for a condition called progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and on treatment day one with the first patient the PI tapped on my door and asked if I’d like to say hello – would I?! – and this lovely gentleman thanked me (!!) for all my hard work while he sat there with his infusion. I’d never really understood the phrase “walking on a cloud” until then but I floated back to the office and emailed all my old colleagues to tell them what we do is so unbelievably worth it and to keep the faith if they are having a bad day.
What motivates me, even on those “what else can go wrong today?” days are those undertaking phase I oncology studies. Tuesdays were cancer clinic days on the unit and seeing those participants, who have often ceased unsuccessful standard treatment care, their faith and commitment to turn up to each visit and get pumped full of first-in-human drugs knowing that they are unlikely to benefit them but do so to benefit treatment for others in the future is what I find most humbling and inspiring.