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Case study: Trialblazer Kit encourages everyone to give research a try and help make future treatments safe for all

Kit Williams is a retired teacher from Cornwall. She has multiple sclerosis, and has taken part in many studies since being diagnosed in 2004, as well as fundraising for research to be able to take place.

“Hi, I’m Kit and I’m involved in medical research as a participant. That means I answer questionnaires, take part in trials for vaccines or medication and sometimes send in a blood spot for analysis to a study. I may be asked to give a blood sample or be weighed and measured, or my heart rate, pulse and blood pressure taken.

“These are all ways of being involved in research. I believe it’s vitally important to engage in trials of vaccines and treatments. If you’ve ever been prescribed a medication or received treatment, it can be given to you because research took place to make sure it is safe. Nothing your doctor, consultant or surgeon ever gives you is untested and only by testing on people, can medical treatments be cleared for human use.

“I had good care in the NHS, so wanted a way of giving something back. I started engaging in trials and research abroad in 2005 and in Britain in 2008. I found it so interesting that I became involved in several projects. Some are fairly light in the demands they make, such as filling in questionnaires. This is how I have engaged in SARS-Cov2 research, as many institutions have been carrying out studies in the headlong rush for solutions to beat the coronavirus.

“I occasionally attend an institution or hospital to give a blood sample. Another research project required a saliva sample, which I returned by post. Research comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s not always, or even frequently, the clichéd image we see on TV of white coated lab technicians with pipettes and test tubes.

“The more research and trials I take part in the more I learn. Volunteering can seem difficult at first, but you will be made welcome by researchers who are always in need of participants. The opportunities are out there. Your surgery may be involved in research - you can ask there.

“There are websites like Be part of Research where you can find what’s going on and where. There may not be anything for you immediately, you won’t always be suitable, but something will be right for you. Give it a try.”

Find out how you could become a Trialblazer by volunteering for research: