CLINICAL DATA MANAGER
During an MSc in the neuroscience of language, Jenna came to appreciate data and how the way it is treated can make a difference to an outcome. She decided that she’d like to pursue a career in data which has taken her, via the University College London Cancer Trials Centre and the Medical Research Council, to the Primary Care CTU where she has worked for four and a half years.
“I really enjoy working in primary care, the idea that our work is helping the general public and hopefully preventing the need to go to the doctor or into hospital really appeals, it’s worthwhile. “
WHAT IS YOUR ROLE?
I’m responsible for the data for various clinical trials. Amongst other things, this involves setting up databases, cleaning the data and producing reports. I work alongside the trial programmers, statisticians and trial managers to make sure data is complete and consistent and to get it prepared for data analysis.
WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY?
It varies a lot, which is good. There’s always checking emails first thing and downloading datasets and running data cleaning programmes. Any discrepancies are resolved, and there will be reports to produce as well. There are often database updates, especially in the time of COVID-19, and these need to be tested and validated to make sure they are robust and rigorous. I regularly attend meetings either for the trials I work on or with those who I line manage.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY ABOUT THE JOB?
I like being part of a small, close-knit team where we all help each other out and we are working together.
The trials are fascinating; I’ve worked on studies of antibiotic resistance in at risk children and for the prevention of UTIs. The most interesting so far was a trial that used virtual reality to treat agoraphobia. Over the last two years COVID-19 trials have dominated and it has been very rewarding to know that we are making a difference.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT FROM WORKING IN THE TRIAL TEAM?
My technical skills have improved, and I have enjoyed the management opportunities.
WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING PART OF THE ROLE?
When we get an outcome from a study. Knowing that, because of the data, we helped make that happen, it is very satisfying.
WHAT IS THE MOST STRESSFUL PART OF THE ROLE?
The deadlines, especially during COVID-19, but we did it together and it was exceptional circumstances – and it wasn’t like we had anything better to do!
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
I think in particular, getting the COVID-19 trials up and running so quickly when there was such an urgent need for them. To get trials established in a month was unheard of before COVID-19. It was a supreme team effort.
WHAT IS THE STRANGEST THING TO HAVE HAPPENED?
The whole working from home was strange to begin with, and before COVID-19, I would never have dreamt that my cats would sometimes be joining our team meetings!
WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO IN THE FUTURE?
Doing something new. I’m hoping to do a pre-doctorial fellowship with a view to eventually working at the CTU as a statistician. It’s great to have opportunities opening up again.