Subject: Biology

"I work as a research assistant for a company that specialises in the management of clinical trials, particularly breast cancer-related trials."

Elle, Research Assistant, Frontier Science Scotland

What is a typical day like for you?

I am currently involved in managing the data for two phase III clinical trials and I collaborate with various global study team members to facilitate the resolution of data discrepancies to ensure that the data reported is of the highest quality. A major part of my job is working to ‘Good Clinical Practice’ (GCP) guidelines, a regulatory requirement of all clinical research. I also travel abroad regularly to attend conferences about the latest methods in clinical trials.

What inspired you to work in this field?

I have always enjoyed science from a young age but my high school biology teacher influenced my decision to pursue a biological career as he taught the subject in a fun and extremely interesting manner. I always enjoyed working in the laboratory at university and after graduating, I was determined to work in a research and development laboratory for a large pharmaceutical organisation. I applied online to several companies and was fortunate to be offered a position with LifeScan Scotland (Johnson & Johnson).

What has surprised you about the job role?

I have been most surprised by the cost of running a clinical trial. On average, it costs $400,000,000 to run a global trial in the hope of bringing a new drug to the market. Even after the trial has been completed, there is no guarantee that the results of the trial will be a success and the drug will reach the pharmacy shelf.

What advice would you give others?

Excellent organisational skills and attention to detail are essential. There are good opportunities to become a clinical research associate (CRA). A CRA supervises the conduct of the trial by visiting study sites, such as hospitals and clinics, and checking the trial paperwork. This is a popular career choice as it can offer flexibility to work in either home-based or office-based roles. There are also opportunities to become a trials project manager, which offers an attractive salary and big responsibility.

With thanks to The Royal Society of Biology

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