Meet our people: Leonora

Meet our people: Leonora

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.