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Case study: “I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot!” Eastern GP excels in first research lead role

After just a year of being fully qualified, a Cambridgeshire GP has not only led a national clinical trial at the practice where she works, but has also enrolled the first participant in the UK to it.

After just a year of being fully qualified, a Cambridgeshire GP has not only led a national clinical trial at the practice where she works, but has also enrolled the first participant in the UK to it.

Dr Laura Angco qualified as a registered GP in 2020 after training at NHS organisations around Cambridge, including 6 months at Staploe Medical Centre in Ely where she now works. The practice has a very active research unit and having helped the research team during her training, Laura leapt at the opportunity to lead a new diabetes trial when she was offered it.

Laura was approved as Principal Investigator (PI) and soon enrolled the first UK participant on the trial investigating the ways to reduce the risk of people with obesity and pre-diabetes developing diabetes.

Just before starting the trial, Laura had also been selected for the NIHR Clinical Research Network Eastern’s Greenshoots Award Scheme, which supports health and social care professionals in becoming a PI for the first time. She said:

“It was all perfectly timed and, my interest aside, it felt like I was in the right place at the right time, around the right people. Being involved from the beginning has been very exciting. The patients seem excited to be part of it too.”

As well as being able to help patients further through research, Laura also feels her involvement benefits her personally and professionally:

“I feel I’ve been really lucky ending up at Staploe Medical Centre. My aim was never to follow a research career specifically, I was just doing research that interested me as opportunities arose, so I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot!”

She is also grateful for the support and funding provided through the Greenshoots Awards Scheme:

“The Greenshoots Award has enabled me to set aside time to do research, which is not always possible without support. I also hadn’t realised there is this big Clinical Research Network out there doing so much behind the scenes, which has given me the chance to develop professionally and meet people I wouldn’t necessarily have had the chance to.”

Dr Helen Macdonald, Chief Operating Officer for the NIHR’s Clinical Research Network in the Eastern region, said:

“Laura’s achievements are invaluable, both in terms of the benefits her involvement will bring to patients, and the inspiration she provides to others working in Primary Care who might be thinking about taking their first steps in research. It’s vital that those who would like to get involved are supported in doing so, and we are very proud to be able to help new PIs, now and in the future. Thank you, Laura, for being such a good example!”

Laura hopes to be able to get involved in more research in future, and urges others who are considering a research career to do the same:

“I feel the best way to go through life is by doing things that you enjoy and find exciting, so if research is something that you’re passionate about look for the opportunities as they’re out there. Go for it!”

Find out more on how the NIHR can support your path in research.