What is your name and job title
Leonora Cotton – Associate Clinical Development Manager
How would you describe your role?
I am involved in the testing of a new medication in a human clinical
trial. Amongst the team members who feed into this, including those in
the labs, manufacturing, statisticians and those working at the site
where the trial takes place, I work on the study team in a study
management role. This involves ensuring the trial is conducted ethically
and safely, according to the protocol. I do this at a global level,
overseeing the trial of the drug in multiple sites and countries. This
involves all the stages of a clinical trial, from set-up, to trial
maintenance and then close out. Day-to-day, I interact with staff at
trial sites, input into documentation for the trial, contribute at team
meetings and work to resolve any issues that arise.
How did you get into STEM and why does it interest you?
At school I was interested in human biology and thought I wanted to
be a doctor. However, after studying further at A level, I realised I
wanted to learn about the brain as a subsection of the human body, and
how it functions. I think the brain is fundamental to everything we do,
and I wanted to learn about how this organ allows us to move, speak,
think and sleep. This led me to study a degree in Neuroscience.
What educational route did you take?
After taking Biology, Chemistry, English Literature and Health and
Social Care at A level, I went on to do a degree in Neuroscience at
Bristol University. Although providing speciality in my area of interest
(the brain and nervous system), this essentially gave me a broad
biomedical degree with background knowledge in pharmacology (how a drug
works), physiology (how humans function), and biochemistry (the
molecular basis of this). I knew I didn’t want to work in a laboratory
after university but wasn’t sure what else I wanted to do. After
searching for industrial placements online I thought this job would be a
great opportunity to build on my organisational and communication
skills to help deliver a drug to market.
What is the best part about your job?
I really enjoy knowing that I’m playing a key role in helping find
new cancer treatments. Although it’s not a job on the front line, I know
that I am helping patients through trialling these new medications and
we are doing our best to extend the lives of people living with cancer. I
also love that I can play to my strengths – I love being organised and
working within a team who I can interact with every day.
What is one thing most people would not know about your job?
That it exists! I had no idea there was a whole team of people
coordinating a clinical trial from afar before I found this job role. It
showed me there are thousands of roles in science that I have yet to
discover, and I can still use my science background even if I’m not
working in a laboratory role.
What are you excited about for the future of your role?
I’m excited to see how my role develops with the input of new systems
and technology. For example, I think there is potential to reduce the
amount of manual admin and resource through automated systems that can
communicate with each other.