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Your Path in Research: Head of Research and Development Bianca Mills

Bianca Mills, Head of Research and Development

Proving you don’t have to come from a medical or science background to forge a high-flying career in research, Bianca charts her path and sets out how anyone can look forward to a bright future in this area.

When did you first get involved in research?

I started within research and development in November 2008 after being made redundant from a solicitors residential property department following the economic downturn of 2008.

Why did you decide to get involved?  

At the time, the field of law, which I was passionate about had limited job opportunities. I saw on the NHS jobs website a role of Research Office Assistant within the Research, Management and Governance Team at the Royal Cornwall Hospital.

What has been the highlight of your research career so far? 

I would have to say that being the COVID-19 Vaccine Single Point of Contact for the South West Peninsula region during the pandemic has to be a career highlight.  It has been one of the most rewarding parts of my career, knowing that the work we undertake makes a real difference to local, regional, national and even international health. It’s been exhilarating to see vaccine and other studies delivered in our region have informed national policy.

Why do you believe research is important? 

Whether it’s a novel treatment study or a quality-of-life study, research is so vital to inform the direction of health care.

What do you love about your job?  

It’s cutting edge. Whether I am supporting a SME with their research idea or working with big pharma – the aim is to bring research opportunities to our patient population and improve someone’s health. 

Why would you recommend research as a career to others? 

There are so many opportunities in research, you don’t need to be a scientist or a doctor, look at me. Starting as a band 3 administrator, to Research Support Officer in Research Management and Governance.  Moving into delivery working as a Clinical Trials Coordinator within Haematology, becoming the Industry Operations Manager for a hospital. More recently becoming the Business Development Operations Manager for the NIHR CRN South West Peninsula, and shortly moving to Head of Research and Development for the large acute hospital locally. 13 years, one secondment out of research into front line service management for a year. Being made redundant in 2008 was the best thing that ever happened to me. I look forward to the future in research.


Find out how you can be part of research on the National Institute for Health Research website.