Dr Jenny Seligmann is a Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Clinical Trials Fellow and medical oncology specialist based at the Leeds Clinical Trials research unit and St. James’s Institute of Oncology, Leeds. She participated in the NCRI Clinical Studies Group (CSG) Trainee Scheme in 2015, as a member of the Colorectal CSG. Here she talks to us about her experience of the scheme and the opportunities it has opened up.
How did you get in to clinical research?
Throughout medical school and post-graduate medical training I have been involved in research projects. Early involvement in the Leeds Clinical Trials Unit and the laboratory as a NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow provided not only valuable experience, opportunities and research output, but showed how rewarding, varied and fun life as a clinical academic could be.
What are you working on at the moment?
I completed my lab-based PhD last year which focussed on biomarkers in advanced colorectal cancer. I am now gaining more practical clinical trials experience with a career goal of being a clinical trialist with an interest in biomarker stratified trial design, plus set up of trial biobanks and subsequent translational work. I am also the FOCUS 4 trial physician.
What opportunities did the CSG Trainee Scheme open up for you?
It has been an important aspect of my development as a clinical trialist, particularly in understanding the function and workings of the group. I would now feel confident to present trial ideas at an early stage to the group, knowing that feedback would be key. Although I already knew most of the oncologists working in colorectal trials in the UK, I had not met those in other specialties. This has been really important as I am now developing a clinical trial with some of the colorectal surgeons, whom I would not have met at this early career stage without the scheme.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of applying for the next CSG Trainee Scheme?
This is a real opportunity to become part of a research community and build key collaborations with national leaders that could shape the next stages of your career. The application process was straightforward. I had discussed my application with several colleagues who are current or past members of CSGs, not just in my own speciality or disease sub-type. My choice of CSG was obvious based upon my past experience; I would encourage others to choose the group for the cancer site that they are most enthused by.