Nuffield Department of Medicine (NDM) - Experimental Medicine Division
Tell us a bit About your role
As a Programme Manager I provide operational leadership for the Modernising Medical Microbiology (MMM) research consortium to improve the diagnosis and treatment of difficult to treat infections, such as multidrug resistant tuberculosis. The main part of my role is to bring together and support people to ensure work is carried out to deliver the objectives of individual research projects. I not only liaise with the local MMM research team but also with consortium members worldwide including administrators, researchers and clinicians to facilitate the smooth running of our projects.
My background is a mixture of business and academia. I started my career at BUPA International but I’ve always been interested in science, so after 5 years I decided to take the plunge and become a full-time mature student. I studied Molecular Genetics at University of Sussex whilst maintaining a part-time role at BUPA in Operational Development. After graduating I moved to London for a combined MRes/PhD in Molecular Biology at Imperial College London and completed a 3 year post-doc at Oxford University. I then spent 4 years in Research Services to learn about how the University operates. I have been in my current position for 5 years and the combination of skills I developed when working in the commercial sector coupled with knowledge in academia is definitely an advantage in my role.
In recent years research funders have been encouraging cross-discipline collaborations involving different themes often between different institutes across the world, moving away from small independent research groups. There is also an increased focus in working closely with industrial partners to ensure there is a path for translation of academic research and a demonstrable impact. These changes has created a need for project and programme managers within academia to achieve objectives of these larger multi-workstream projects and these kind of projects are likely to increase in the future.
What is the most meaningful aspect of your work?
The most enjoyable and meaningful aspect of my work is building relationships and trust with research partners. This often involves understanding differences in culture and motivation and can take time, however, it is satisfying when at the end of a project you have built a relationship based on mutual respect.
Can you tell us about something you’ve done, contributed to that you’re most proud of?
During the recent COVID-19 pandemic, I was involved in the development and implementation of a high-throughput assay to test for the presence of COVID-19 antibodies in blood. This effort was undertaken at high speed to support the national response to the pandemic and involved multiple different research groups across the Medical Sciences Division. I am incredibly proud to have managed this which is now been used successfully by the government to support many of its national COVID-19 surveillance initiatives.
What changes would you most like to see in the Medical Sciences in the next 100 years?
The implementation of personalised medicine so that each person is treated as an individual. To enable this will require the generation and analyses of vast amounts of data e.g. genomic sequences and therefore needs to be supported by improved use of artificial intelligence to allow personalised interpretation.