Michelle: Why I'm #ProudToBe working in research
Michelle Oritsejafor says the theme of this year Black History Month this year, 'Proud To Be', together with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, causes her to reflect on how she feels to work for the NHS.
She said: “I think with the last 18 months and the role research has played in the pandemic, that theme is very fitting. The support and acknowledgment that the NHS and research teams got during this time made me very proud to be working in the NHS.”
Michelle, a Senior Portfolio Officer at CRN North Thames, came to a research career by accident. She explained: “I started working at a clinical trial technology company which was very exciting to be a part of, and worked there for three years, however I quickly realised that I wanted more experience with UK trials, so I then made the transfer over to the NHS.”
Having worked at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, she moved to Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust to set up cancer studies. From there, she moved to CRN North West London before taking on her current role at CRN North Thames.
Michelle is particularly interested in digital solutions in research as well as making research more accessible to under-served communities. With this in mind, she was particularly heartened by the recent news of a new treatment or sickle cell disease, a disease which causes painful episodes called sickle cell crises, which can last up to a week, and can also leave sufferers more prone to infections and cause anaemia. The disease is particularly common in people with an African or Caribbean family background.
Michelle added: “Working in research has also made me aware of the current difficulties in setting up studies in certain specialty areas. Sickle cell disease is one that sticks out to me, and this encouraged me to actively donate blood and encourage my family and friends to do so also.”
Breakthroughs such as the one in sickle cell disease are part of the reason why Michelle is now a passionate research advocate.
“It has always been important for me to emphasise the necessity of research to anyone I speak to, as not much is known about the purpose and the day-to-day roles,” explained Michelle. “The pandemic and vaccine rollout have really improved the public understanding of research and has highlighted the importance of patients in research and their huge role in the success of studies.”
Michelle, who enjoys walking and cooking, is looking forward to developing her research career at CRN North Thames.
To find out more about Your Path in Research, visit the page on the NIHR website.