04 Jun 2024

The UK’s clinical trial leaders of the future

In November 2023, the inaugural meeting of the DIDACT Foundation‘s Clinical Trials Training Days, Part I, marked a pivotal step in empowering healthcare professionals. The Foundation’s mission is clear: to arm these professionals with the vital knowledge, skills, and confidence needed for effective clinical trial conduct. 

Last month, aspiring trial leaders and mentors reconvened for Part II of the workshop series. This session placed special emphasis on enhancing the mentorship program established in Part I, fostering collaboration, and facilitating the transfer of knowledge and experience from expert researchers. 

Eager to find out what attendees have learnt from the training so far; we asked them a series of questions about their experience and the impact it will have on future projects.  

What was the motivation to sign up for the DIDACT Foundation Academy Clinical Trials meeting? 

“As an early career researcher, it can be a challenge to find good quality, tailored resources aimed at developing investigators in the UK. My motivation was to increase my understanding of the trials infrastructure in the UK and learn how to navigate it.” – Dr. Jahanzaib Khwaja (University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – UCLH) 

“My aim is to deliver and design high quality, impactful clinical trials for haematology patients as I progress through my career. I hoped that attending the DIDACT Foundation Clinical Trials Academy would give me a solid grounding in intelligent and ethical trial design, teach me more about how we can place patients at the centre of our trial design and a get better personal grasp of statistics!” – Dr Jenny Vidler (King’s College Hospital) 

How did you find the experience? 

“A wonderful experience of working together with enthusiastic peers, colleagues, and leaders in the field. The interaction with the network has been invaluable for thinking widely about research proposals, potential future trials, and career planning. It has been helpful to develop alongside a supportive network. The faculty are all approachable, bring a great range of experience, and foster a welcoming environment.” – Dr. Jahanzaib Khwaja (UCLH) 

“The experience of designing a theoretical trial with clinicians with similar interests has been an enriching experience, and one that has led to the forging of new friendships and collaborations. To receive feedback on our ideas from eminent UK clinical trialists, industry and patient experts was an invaluable experience. I am grateful that they have been so generous with their time and thoughtful comments. The mentorship opportunities will help me to shape my future career, the impact of this cannot be understated.” – Dr Jenny Vidler (King’s College Hospital) 

“The DIDACT Foundation Academy Clinical meeting is a perfect program for young investigators to transition to principal investigators. During the course, I learned clinical trial design, research methodologies, and the clinical trial units. I also learned about the clinical trial network such as IMPACT, Leukaemia UK, and ACT. I also had the opportunity to learn about the mentorship program and the impact of a good mentor-mentee relationship to improve the mentee’s knowledge and skills. I really enjoyed the mentorship talk. 

Working on a project with a lovely team was fun. I learned a lot during our meetings, discussions, and preparing slides. Presenting as a group in Dragon Den was an excellent experience. 

Overall, I am very grateful for all the faculty members and everyone organizing this excellent meeting for us. I would recommend this meeting for all young haematologists who aspire to become clinical researchers.” – Dr. Thinzar Ko Ko (Royal Marsden Hospital – RMH) 

How do you hope to use the information you have learned going forward? What have you been inspired to do? 

“I have been inspired to reach out to my local clinical trials team and learn more about what resources we have available. It has given me the confidence to develop discussions with colleagues about potential trial proposals and aim to lead on this in the future.” – Dr. Jahanzaib Khwaja (UCLH) 

“I have begun to think deeply and with more clarity about how I can incorporate clinical trials into my future career plans. I am learning more about service development and building a business case with the support of my fantastic and inspirational mentor. I am also working on new collaborative projects with a group of other delegates, hoping to take some of the ideas developed at the Academy forward, to hopefully start to benefit patients.” – Dr Jenny Vidler (King’s College Hospital) 

“I gained confidence and my knowledge has improved during the course. I will use the knowledge and skills I have learnt to transition to an independent researcher.” – Dr Thinzar Ko Ko (RMH) 

These testimonials highlight the significant impact of the DIDACT Foundation’s Clinical Trials Training Days. The program not only equips participants with crucial knowledge and skills but also fosters a supportive and collaborative environment that inspires future leaders in clinical research.  

Mhairi Copland, Academy Lead for DIDACT Foundation, added “We have been delighted by the very positive response to the first DIDACT Foundation clinical trials academy. I would like to extend a huge thank you to all the faculty and delegates for their commitment and making day 2 of the Academy in Liverpool such a success. Massive thanks as well to Leukaemia UK for funding the DIDACT Foundation clinical trials academy and to Fiona and Simon for getting involved with the training sessions. We look forward to continued engagement with the UK’s clinical trial leaders of the future.” 

Stay tuned for more insights and stories from our dedicated participants as we continue to empower the next generation of clinical trial leaders. 

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