This site is optimised for modern browsers. For the best experience, please use Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.

Your Path in Research: Leanna's story

Leanna Goodwin is a Research Practitioner in the digital Experimental Cancer Medicine Team (dECMT) at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Greater Manchester. Having started her career in a very different line of work, it was the experience of witnessing a loved one’s involvement in a clinical trial for cancer which prompted Leanna to completely change direction. This is her Your Path in Research story. 


After completing my undergraduate degree in Sociology back in 2010, I was extremely interested in completing a research-related postgraduate degree, but I just couldn’t find an area of research in the social sciences field that I felt really passionate enough about to pursue at that time. Nearly 10 years later, a combination of personal and professional factors led me to a career in clinical research as a Research Practitioner.

I started my professional career working in market and consumer research; what changed this for me was an experience in my personal life. At 25 I provided support for a loved one as they took part in multiple clinical trials following a cancer diagnosis. This experience led to a complete shift in the direction of my career; I wanted to play a part, however small, in research that would help to provide this same opportunity to other patients.

My personal experience with cancer research motivated me to seek out a role within the Experimental Cancer Medicine Team (ECMT) at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, which manages a large portfolio of Phase 1 clinical trials. My initial role within the team was to support some of the administrative aspects of the trials as a Data Manager. Working within ECMT then led to me taking part in the Master of Research (MRes) in Experimental Medicine (Cancer) course through ECMT’s close links with the University of Manchester. This gave me a really thorough understanding of clinical trials from the pre-clinical phase through to treatments being approved for use as part of standard of care.

Since graduating in December 2019, I have secured a role as a Research Practitioner within the digital Experimental Cancer Medicine Team (dECMT), the first of its kind at The Christie. This patient-facing role involves coordinating research activities for trials which aim to use technology to transform the patient role in research, and ultimately improve treatment pathways. Another key aspect of my role is acting as the first point of contact for trial patients. It is fascinating to be involved in such innovative research.

My path to being part of clinical research hopefully demonstrates that there are routes into this profession for people from a wide variety of educational and professional backgrounds. Despite the challenges I faced in coming to clinical research from a non-clinical background, especially working in a patient-facing role, I have been able to overcome these thanks to a supportive team and excellent professional training and educational opportunities.


The NIHR’s Your Path in Research campaign highlights how people can make research part of their career. Go to the NIHR website for more information on how to get started.