Melanie studied history at university and worked in a variety of roles in hospitality and wine sales before deciding on a change of direction and joining the University of Oxford; working firstly for the Oxford Vaccine Group before joining the Clinical Trials Unit in February 2021.
“I wasn’t a fan of science at school; history was much more interesting – now I’m making history by working in science!”
What is your role in the Clinical Trials Unit, CTU?
I am the IMP Lead for my study. IMP is an acronym for Investigational Medicinal Product which is a bit of a mouthful so IMP for short. Basically, I am responsible for ensuring that people who join the trial receive either the medicine, if they are randomised to a drug, or the details about the study to go alongside their usual NHS care. Then there’s the additional information they need, such as how to fill in the diary they are asked to complete every day. In the early days of COVID-19 we were also sending out swabs to everyone taking part, but we stopped doing that when tests became freely available.
What is a typical day?
There’s a lot of stock monitoring. I have to make sure that there are good processes in place to ensure the medicines reach the people they are intended for, are returned to us if not used, and to ensure stocks are monitored and accounted for. Three times a day I will send the list to the team dispatching the treatment packs so it’s important to keep on top of that so that the trial runs smoothly.
I also manage the emails coming into some of the trial inboxes from participants and trial partners and, as with any job, there’s the occasional need to firefight!
What do you enjoy about the job?
I know it’s what everyone says but the team make my job enjoyable, they are great to work with. It’s also fast moving and varied. When I started in the CTU I had to learn about three different drugs in my first three months as new trial arms opened so it was a steep learning curve– but that’s what makes it interesting.
And then, there’s the location, we’re right in the heart of Oxford – it’s beautiful (and close to good coffee shops, which helps!).
What has been the most rewarding part of the role?
It does feel like you are making a difference. It’s primary care so you know people are unwell and you are hopefully doing something to make them feel better.
What will be your lasting memories of the last two years?
How hectic it was!
I was still going into the office during the lockdowns, so it felt odd when almost everyone else was working from home – it was such a strange time, but the commute was blissful!
And finally, what are you most looking forward to?
Working on something that isn’t COVID!