Dr Jaclyn Nicole Le Grand
Strategic Programme Manager
MDUK Oxford Neuromuscular Centre, Department of Paediatrics
Tell us a bit about your role
I am responsible for the strategic and programme management of the MDUK Oxford Neuromuscular Centre, integrating pre-clinical research programmes with clinical activity. My role includes developing opportunities and proposals for both research and operational funding that directly support the Centre’s key objectives. I manage project funds, project reporting, operations of the Centre’s core activities, the Centre’s internal and external communications as well as reporting and relations with external partners.
I trained as a biochemist and neurodegenerative diseases researcher, obtaining a MSc in Cellular and Molecular Medicine, a PhD in Biochemistry and conducting postdoctoral research in the field of the neurodegenerative disease. As much as I enjoyed (and admittedly sometimes miss) being a scientific researcher, I often longed for a role in which I felt that I would have a more direct and immediate impact on others’ lives.
I moved into a research project manager role five years ago when an opportunity arose in a neighbouring lab where I was conducting my postdoctoral research. I stayed in that role for three years, working within the field of translational medical research, managing Horizon2020 and nationally funded projects focusing on Parkinson Disease, and moved to Oxford two years ago to project manage the MDUK Oxford Neuromuscular Centre.
I was very lucky to be working within an incredibly supportive and opportunity-rich environment when I transitioned from bench research to project management and I strive to carry-forward that sense of mentoring and support for others as I continue to progress in my own career.
What is the most meaningful aspect of your work?
I feel privileged to be a part of developing programmes that have the potential to transform the treatment landscape for rare neuromuscular diseases and drastically improve people’s health and families’ lives. Neuromuscular diseases can be devastating for the person diagnosed and their families, and I’m glad to be able to help them in some small way.
Can you tell us about something you've done, contributed to that you're most proud of?
I got into medical research, first in neurogenerative disease research and now supporting neuromuscular disease research, because a number of people in my life have been afflicted by these diseases. My passion to make a difference in the field of medical research and health-care has driven most of my career choices and taken me from Canada, where I was born, to France, Luxembourg and now the UK. I’ve integrated into new systems, cultures and teams in these countries and contributed to the advancement of medical sciences in each, working on projects focused on fundamental and clinical research, transfer of knowledge and integrating state-of-the-art research into clinical care.
I’m proud of all these projects and particularly proud of my commitment to the field, which has ultimately shaped much of my life experiences. Most importantly, I’m thankful to the first women in science who had to fight to work in a domain in which I’m now given the opportunity to strive.
What changes would you most like to see in the Medical Sciences in the next 100 years?
My hope for the next 100 years of Medical Sciences is that we reach the point that the promotion of health and prevention of disease becomes the norm and that treating the symptoms of diseases become a thing of the past. I know this may seem like a big ask, but with the considerable advances in medicine, particularly genome-wide screening capabilities, vaccines and the understanding of risk factors and biomarkers of disease, we’re now in a place to make this hope a reality.
I also hope that disease prevention programmes integrate - even more prominently than they already do - the importance of mental health on physical health and that these programmes and medical treatments are made available on a global scale, regardless of a particular state’s economy. In both cases, these goals require a long-term promise from everyone involved to create a culture change that values all aspects of global health. This is happening more and more now and each small step forward leads to another. I can’t wait to see where we will be in 25 years and can only imagine what progress humankind will have achieved in the next 100 years!