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David Thompson is a Trial Manager in the Department of Oncology. Here David tells us about his career to date, what a typical week looks like in his role and offers advice to anyone interested in a career in clinical trial management.

Number of years in clinical trial management

8 Years

How did you get here?

After completing my degree and returning to Oxford, I was employed in various administrative roles which allowed me to hone my data handling skills. Despite my lack of experience in medical research and clinical trials at that stage, my data skills enabled me to interview and be appointed as a Clinical Trial Support Officer at Oxford Clinical Trials Office (OCTO) in 2015. The quality of training provided by OCTO in addition to the immersive nature of working in clinical trials aided my progression to OCTO Clinical Trial Administrator in 2018 and Trial Manager in 2020. While I started my foray into clinical trials by working on a very large late phase trial called AspECT (that was collecting patient data on paper CRFs), my promotion to CTA brought me into OCTO’s early phase portfolio where I have since worked on and managed a variety of first in human drug trials, as well as a medical device clinical investigation called CEeDD, which investigates whether the co-administration of sonosensitive particles and application of extracorporeal ultrasound can improve drug delivery for patients with colorectal metastases to the liver.

What are you working on just now?

I currently manage two clinical trials which are quite different to one another – one is a first-in-human immunotherapy clinical trial for treating patients with melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer, and the other is a first-in-human clinical investigation of cavitation-enhanced drug delivery to solid tumours.

What do you do in a typical day/week?

The role of Trial Manager brings a variety of tasks – at its core is maintaining oversight of the conduct of trial, and the compliance with GCP and the trial protocol. Tasks can differ depending on the status of the trial - for a trial in set-up, the Trial Manager will develop the necessary documents needed for initial submission for regulatory approval. When a trial is open to recruitment, oversight of the trial is maintained by site management and data management. In addition to this, a Trial Manager will have frequent meetings coordinating with the research collaborators in order to continually review compliance, progress and the risk assessment of the trial.  

What education/qualifications do you have?

I have an English Literature degree.

What skills or attributes are most valuable in your role?

Strong communication skills and an attention to detail are key in this role, as being able to provide clear decisions/guidance is vital in maintaining oversight of trial conduct.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in trial management?

Never discount yourself if you feel you lack experience or qualifications in a particular research area – OCTO has a variety of educational and employment backgrounds, and trial management is a great place to transfer your skills.

Why should someone come and work in Oxford?

Oxford plays a huge role in the exciting world of research, where there is a huge amount of expertise and willingness to improve the livelihoods of others.