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I'm the central cog that allows a clinical trial to run smoothly

The Bloodwise logo. Bloodwise appears in black text against a white background
Posted by
02 Apr 2019

Meet Clinical Trial Co-ordinator Sophie Cramp and discover how she helps new treatments get from the lab to the clinic.

Sophie Cramp working as a Clinical Trial Coordinator

What is your job?

I work as a Clinical Trial Coordinator at the University of Birmingham’s Cancer Trials Unit (CRCTU). My work forms part of the Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP) Network. TAP is an initiative funded by Bloodwise to deliver clinical trials for blood cancer patients more quickly.

For those who aren’t familiar with clinical trials, they are medical research studies involving people. It's the final stage before the NHS decides whether to offer blood cancer patients a new drug.

Why is your work so important?

Clinical trials can be complex to deliver, because the laws and regulations which govern trials in the UK can be difficult to navigate. There can be safety concerns around unexpected drug side effects, and ethical concerns that I have to address.

In essence, a Clinical Trial Coordinator is the central cog that allows the trial to run smoothly.

So it all revolves around you…

Haha, sort of! It’s my job to oversee a trial from start to finish. From applying for the initial funding for a trial to publishing the results. We work closely with hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and other stakeholders, to ensure clinical trials are delivered safely and on time.

Trial Coordinators streamline the process of trial delivery in the UK. Without us, trials would take much longer.

And what does that mean for people with blood cancer?

The TAP network has drastically reduced the set-up time for blood cancer trials in the UK. This means that more patients have access to new, promising therapies, which are not currently available on the NHS.

Does your work benefit all blood cancers?

The TAP network has allowed us to work with clinicians from across the UK to develop trials which cover most types of blood cancer.

As the TAP network runs at multiple hospitals across the UK, it allows us to increase patients’ access to clinical trials throughout the country, especially in rare forms of blood cancer.

Sophie (far right) with other TAP network CLL trial coordinators (L-R): Gemma Cullen, Chhaya Sankhalpara, and Francesca Yates

What are you working on right now?

The trials I work on are for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), the most common adult leukaemia in the UK. Our portfolio currently consists of three trials, CLARITY, IcICLLe and CALiBRe. These trials are now in the ‘follow-up’ stage, which means we’ve recruited all the patients we need and are getting ready to publish the results.

Do you have anything new on the horizon?

Yes, we are also working hard to open a new study called STELLAR.

This trial offers a new treatment for a disease called Richter’s Syndrome, which happens when CLL transforms into an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. We are in the final stages of setting up this study and are due to open to recruitment in Spring 2019.

Did you always want to work in research?

No, when I was a kid I wanted to be an archaeologist! I used to have a slight obsession with Indiana Jones. Surprisingly, once I realised the job didn’t really entail running around crumbling temples and pyramids, I went off the idea.

What's the hardest thing about your work?

As a Trial Coordinator, if you’ve reached the end of your to-do list, something’s not quite right.

Whether you’re reviewing safety information, responding to research queries or preparing a publication, there always seems to be something more urgent that pulls you away from your task!

What's your favourite thing about your work?

It’s really rewarding to know that the work we’re doing through TAP is increasing patients’ ability to access new, effective medicines, and delivering results which really can change how we treat blood cancer.

What do you have in your desk drawer that most people wouldn’t expect to find there?

An industrial sized pack of PG Tips…. not by choice. Sainsbury’s substituted my order once and I ended up with a six-month supply of teabags, rather than a six-week one!

And lastly… what advice would you give to your younger self?

To not worry so much about things… to be honest, that’s probably advice that I could still use today!

Find out more about Bloodwise clinical trials

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