I started working at Crown in September 2019, right after finishing my graduate studies in Translational Medicine at the University of Helsinki. For me, it was really a dream come true to get a fulltime job in the industry of my interest right out of the gates! In this blog, I aim to give a little background on how I ended up working for Crown – hopefully it will also prove useful to other health and life sciences graduates who might be considering exploring their options outside of academia.
Despite having only recently started my post-graduate career, I’ve been involved in various aspects of clinical research already since my undergraduate years. My first “official” peek into the world of clinical research was as a research associate in the emergency ward of a university children’s hospital. My task was to assist principal investigators in the recruitment process for ongoing pediatric clinical trials by screening the young incoming patients to see if they might fit the inclusion criteria for any of the ongoing trials. Since then, I’ve been involved in transferring clinical data into digital databases to facilitate register-based research, as well as in the development of an AI-based, patient-reported outcome data classification system, and in the preparation and analysis of clinical data for research projects of my own as part of my graduate studies. All this experience has deepened my understanding of the requirements for conducting high-impact clinical research.
My educational background is a bit of a reverse trajectory of the traditional biomedical research continuum, which usually goes from basic to translational, translational to clinical, and then potentially to public or global. I completed my undergraduate studies in the US, majoring in Global Health and minoring in Psychological and Brain Sciences. Studying Global Health opened my eyes to how much the environment plays a role in our health, meaning the environment in a larger sense: not just the visible physical, but also the cultural, social as well as psychological. I wanted to deepen my understanding of this interplay between nature and nurture, so my graduate thesis project in Translational Medicine focused on epigenetics, and more specifically on how poor sleep affects DNA methylation patterns. After finishing my graduate degree, I wanted to do something a little more practical while continuing to learn about the health research continuum.
In my current role as an In-house CRA, I’ve already been involved in multiple trials in different therapeutic areas and learned about all the various pieces that need to come together for a clinical trial to be successful. It’s been valuable to get hands-on experience right from the start with all the bits and bobs of the clinical trial process, such as preparing and developing trial documentation, making regulatory and ethical committee submissions as well as site monitoring and management activities. There is plenty of responsibility, but I also feel very grateful for our deeply knowledgeable and highly experienced senior “Crownheads”, as we call our colleagues here at Crown, who are always happy to help if I have any questions. In sum, I would definitely recommend working at a CRO to any health sciences graduate interested in this complex, challenging and essential phase of biomedical research. It’s a valuable opportunity to grow your professional skillset while deepening your knowledge of how discoveries from basic research ultimately make their way to the patient. I’ve already learned a lot, but I know there are still more pieces to the puzzle, and I look forward to discovering them.
Ada MacKeith, M.Sc. (Translational Medicine)
In-house Clinical Research Associate