Clinical Trials Unit Director of Operations
Emma joined the Clinical Trials Unit, CTU, as she was particularly interested in raising the profile of trials in primary care and making trials accessible to the community. Seven years on and the CTU has made enormous strides towards achieving this with innovative and dynamic trial designs that people can sign up to from their own homes.
“We are pushing the boundaries of trials recruiting from the community and primary care and our work is changing patients’ lives.”
What is your role?
I’m responsible for the overall strategy management of the CTU, liaising with all key stakeholders to ensure the pipeline of trials coming into the CTU is maintained, and once funding is secured, ensuring the trials are operationalised and delivered. This includes managing funding, overseeing trial processes and adherence to regulations, as well as making sure we achieve trial milestones and that we have the capacity to deliver both in terms of staffing and physical resources.
I’m also Chair of the Trial Management Operational Group, UKCRC, – the national body for CTUs and a member of the NHS Digitrials User Group.
What is a typical day?
There really isn’t one!
There are approximately 40 trials on our books, and all at various stages from grant applications to archiving. You can be meeting with government officials one minute and allocating desks, ensuring coffee mornings occur or advising on staff development the next.
What do you enjoy about the job?
Working with a great team on novel research methods and there’s a lot of variety – no two days are the same!
What have you learnt from working in the trial team?
A huge amount - we’ve really pushed the boundaries and we have needed to be one step ahead. It’s emphasised how important it is to create an environment where you can get the best out of people.
What has been the most rewarding part of the role?
Knowing that our work does change patients’ lives through changing clinical guidelines. We have also raised the profile of trials in primary care. The PRINCIPLE and PANORAMIC platform trials have achieved this, they are changing the way we do clinical trials in the community. That’s something we are all very proud of.
What is the most stressful part of the role?
The sheer volume of work!
What will be your lasting memories of the last two years?
Working all hours and the role reversal in my home – my daughters telling me to get off my screen! But mainly the team spirit, knowing we are all on the same side and helping each other out.
What is the strangest thing to have happened?
Firefighting – literally. I was on holiday only to be called about a fire in one of the buildings but it was all fine, it was under control and no one was hurt.
What are you most looking forward to in the future?
A good holiday!