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Spotlight: Lead Facilitator Sarah Avery

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) CRN South London’s Lead Facilitator Sarah Avery speaks about her research journey of seven years.

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’m a Study Support Service (SSS) Lead Facilitator. I work with a range of specialties, including dermatology, haematology, genetics and ageing among others. I also work with primary care and studies in non-NHS settings. As the SSS team, we support non-commercial portfolio studies and we also support commercial studies working with the NIHR’s Coordinating Centre.

What do you enjoy the most about this role?

What I enjoy the most are the early contact meetings with researchers. As soon as research teams apply for portfolio adoption, we contact them and set up a meeting, so that they can see our faces and know that we are here to help. We go through what the Clinical Research Network (CRN) can offer them and try to identify any challenges they might come across in the course of their study, including with recruitment, early on.

How would you describe yourself?

I’m a friendly and approachable person. I’m always happy to help out within my team and within the wider team as well. I love getting involved in any social events at work or academic events. Unfortunately, we haven’t had a lot of that happening because of the pandemic. I’m quite flexible with my role as well. I’m always happy to do different projects and take on new ones.

Why did you join CRN South London?

South London covers quite a lot of different organisations and every study is quite different, so it’s just interesting to hear about different research going on and to meet research teams. I have never worked with primary care before or with studies in non-NHS settings. These are studies that take place in settings such as care homes, homeless centres and schools. That’s a new part of the role for me, which I’m finding really interesting.

What are you interested in?

I love reading novels. Thrillers are my favourite, but I’ll read anything. I love walks and exploring. Recently, we’ve got a new addition to our family, a little Cocker Spaniel Reggie. Now he can accompany me on my walks, which is really nice. I love socialising, seeing friends and family.

Why are you involved in research?

I’ve always wanted to work in health and medicine. I studied Biomedical Science at university. When I graduated, I applied for jobs in hospitals because I wanted to work for the NHS and I was lucky enough to get a job in Research and Development. I have loved it ever since and I feel lucky to work in an industry that’s so interesting. The work is really rewarding as well and feels vital, especially over the past two pandemic years.

Why is research important?

It’s vital to improving patient care through finding out what treatments or interventions work better for patients. Research strives to improve the quality of life for patients.

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.