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Case study: Jenifer Melia, Saluting Our Research Sister During Black History Month

Jenifer Melia, Saluting Our Research Sister During Black History Month

'Saluting our sisters' is the theme for Black History Month this year, so we've taken the time to speak to one of our research sisters, Jenifer Melia. Jen is one of our Clinical Research Support Assistants and has taken the time to tell us about her work and what Black History Month means to her.

“Working as a Research Support Assistant I currently support two research projects. One is on a project called Care 75+ the objective of the study is to identify research priorities of older people with frailty. The data collected helps us to investigate the possibility of future trials to improve the health, well-being, and care for older people, and it also explores frailty not just in city areas but also in rural and coastal areas, and how to support people living with frailty in black, asian, minority ethnic and refugee communities. I also support the Gastroenterology Research Team at the Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. They have a large portfolio of Gastroenterology studies that cover all areas of the Gastrointestinal tract. I find my involvement in both studies very rewarding.

My work can be very varied and is a combination of clinical and clerical duties. Ranging from seeing patients on wards and assessing if they are suitable for research studies, facilitating the recruiting of patients to studies, data collection and input. I also have a more ‘hands on’ clinical role which involves phlebotomy, patient monitoring and obtaining statistics.

As a black woman and the mother of two mixed race children, I feel it is important that my daughters understand the history, traditions, cultures and stories of how their relatives in the recent and distant past lived, whether that be through black history, or folklore, food, music, traditional clothing etc. I feel Black History Month gives everyone the opportunity to share, celebrate and understand the impact of black heritage and culture.

As we know research improves services and treatments not just for us but also for future generations, and I feel we need to attract inquisitive, curious and keen colleagues into the industry whatever the colour of their skin is. However ethnic minorities have been underrepresented in many industries for many years, but thankfully we are seeing a change and I feel we need to continue to support equality and diversity. We need to welcome and support black women into the workforce or as participants of research studies. We live in a multi-cultural country and need black women representing us and the different cultures that we all belong to in order to better understand different cultural, social and health issues.”

Jen also took the time to write this poem about her great grandmother.


My great great grandmother was a slave.

A woman who I never knew.

She lived this life as a young woman, a sister, a mother, a grandmother, a friend.

She lived her life in Barbados in service to her ‘Master’.


Each morning as the sun would rise, she would contemplate what her day would hold.

Was it a day where she could hold her head high and maybe feel a little bold.

A day when the fight would take hold and she would be courageous and strong.

Or a day that was dawning when she had no strength left and knew that day would be very long.


I like to think she was resilient, and along with her sisters and their struggles

They would glimpse moments of beauty, joy, happiness and light.

To believe that hope and change would prevail as she lay her head down each night.

These women of old, would see the sun rise and set not just on the day that

had unfolded but on their lives, and hope and pray that their sisters would not be sold.


By Jenifer Melia