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Spotlight: Acting Joint Study Support Service Lead Alex Ignatian

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) CRN South London’s Acting Joint Study Support Service Lead, Alex Ignatian, talks about his journey in research and how his fashion skills have aided him through 10 years of working in the NHS.

The aim of this monthly spotlight blog series is to celebrate, highlight, educate and inform the public about the diverse range of people who support vital research studies from within our region. We are proud of everyone who plays their part in contributing to improving the health of the population.

What do you do?

I manage the Network’s Study Support Service team. We help to facilitate the set up of research studies in south London; my role is to ensure that the team is on track to achieve its targets and to make sure everyone is ok.

How would you describe yourself?

People would describe me as very organised. However, I am also very relaxed and laid back about things. Life is too short to be too serious, and it is important to be able to have a laugh and have fun with your colleagues as we spend so much time together at work. I’m very approachable and I will always try to help anyone to the best of my ability.

Why did you return to CRN South London?

Returning to CRN South London felt in many ways like I was coming home. My degree is in fashion, and I never envisaged having a career in research. At the time outfits from my fashion label, Seroge, were featured in magazines such as Italian Vogue and Taiwan Vogue. We were also sponsored by Polaroid Sunglasses. I’m working on a relaunch of the label, so watch this space!

I started my career in research as an administrator for this Network when it was known as the Comprehensive Local Research Network, before the organisation became known as CRN South London in 2014. The Network helps to increase the opportunities for people to take part in health and social care research. I also know a lot of people within Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and it is a very nice organisation to work for. However, my fashion skills have still come in handy within the research world: I have made Christmas costumes for our Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Dawn Beaumont-Jewell, when we were together at CRN North Thames, and I’ve even helped to sew labels and patches onto teddy bears for women’s health researchers.

What are you interested in?

I’m interested in a lot of things. I make mini sculptures and models; I draw; I’m into football and ancient history. My favourite film is The Lord of the Rings and the soundtrack is just out of this world. Spotify tells me every single year that the soundtrack is my number one album.

Why are you involved in research?

The pandemic has shown the importance of research, because the results of COVID-19 vaccine research have enabled us all to return to some semblance of normality in this country. I also really enjoy working with my colleagues and take great pride in the fact that I am helping to make a difference to the lives of others.

Why is research important?

Research changes lives. It is only through research that we can develop better treatments, as well as improve diagnosis, prevention, care and quality of life for everyone. Therefore, I’d encourage anyone to take part in a clinical trial as you’re helping researchers make the world a better place. Visit the NIHR’s Be Part of Research website, Join Dementia Research service and the NHS COVID-19 Vaccine Research Registry to find out more about the opportunities that are available.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.