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Spotlight: Study Support Service Lead Dr Ji Luo

Spotlight: Study Support Service Lead Dr Ji Luo

National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) CRN South London Study Support Service (SSS) Lead Dr Ji Luo talks about the SSS team, research and her love of experiencing new cultures, foods and countries.

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 our population.

What do you do?

I manage the CRN South London Study Support Service team. The SSS team is an important function within the network. We are the first point of contact for researchers and provide bespoke support from the initial stage of research right through to the set up and delivery side of research studies. My role is to lead the strategic and operational function of the team, and oversee our support to our researchers and hospital partner organisations.

How would you describe yourself?

People describe me as a kind person. I worked as a researcher before moving into the support side of research delivery, so I have a keen interest in finding out the answers to the key questions within healthcare. I have a lot of focus, drive and determination to get things done.

When did you join CRN South London?

I joined CRN South London last November from CRN North West London. Working within the CRN has given me the opportunity to gain exposure within a wider range of research. I like research a lot and I am keen to use my expertise to continue to serve the scientific community and develop in my career. My role at CRN North West London was as a Band 7 Senior Research Facilitator before I moved into this position.

I’ve lived away from China now for 14 years and actually came to the United Kingdom to complete my masters degree in Leeds. Everything in terms of my career followed from that decision. I have previously worked as an academic researcher at University College London and Great Ormond Street Hospital.

One of my passions is to raise the profile of the SSS team. I want researchers to know what we do and how we can support them. The research landscape is constantly evolving so we are a valuable partner in helping research teams to navigate the required pathways.

What are you interested in?

Travel. I want to visit, explore and immerse myself in as many different cultures as possible. This year, it has been very difficult to achieve those aims due to the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic. I also love food, especially seafood and, of course, you can’t beat some traditional British fish and chips.

Why are you involved in research?

At school I was really interested in biology. I want to understand the science behind things and how that changes lives. I’ve worked in research for 10 years and haven’t worked in another profession.

I’m very proud to work in research and the pandemic has shown how important clinical trials are in healthcare. The UK has done well in setting up the big research trials and in testing different treatments on COVID-19. An example of this is the discovery of dexamethasone, a steroid used to reduce inflammation in the lungs, as an effective treatment in reducing the risk of death in seriously ill COVID-19 patients. This result from the national RECOVERY trial made an impact on treatment of the virus around the world. Research is leading the way in treating this disease and in improving long term care for our patients.

Why is research important?

Research is the way in which we find out what treatments and medicines will improve people’s lives. All treatments, technologies and medicines have to go through a rigorous approval process to prove that they work before they can be used in healthcare. None of these new treatments, medicines or technologies can be utilized without research and the public taking part in clinical trials. This is how we ultimately make the world a better place.

I’d encourage people to use the NIHR’s Be Part of Research online service to find out about the latest research studies taking place within south London. You can find out more about the work of the SSS team on our website.