Crossing Clinical Frontiers: My Transition from CAMH to Phase 1 Studies Manager
In a world where our beginnings often predetermine our paths, my story is a testament to the power of perseverance, adaptability, and an unyielding commitment to excellence. Born into the confines of traditional Chinese customs, my journey has been about challenging those norms, embracing change, and continuously setting new horizons for myself. From my days as a Neurologist in China to my current role as a Phase 1 studies manager in the biopharmaceutical industry in Canada, I invite you to explore with me this transformational journey marked by dedication, resilience, and a burning desire to make a difference.
I was raised in a traditional Chinese family where everyone favoured boys, and I was just a little girl. Started by fighting for fair shares of treats at a young age (my brother always got more than me) to stand for what is right and just. I have been a strong and honest person for my whole life. Thanks to this “stubborn” trait, life has blessed me with valuable gifts, introduced me to many remarkable people, and provided me with numerous opportunities, including my journey in Biopharma.
I was a Neurologist in China before immigrating to Canada in the early 21st century. My father was a neurosurgeon, and the first advice he gave me when I started my residency was, “Do your job with dignity and treat your patients with respect and kindness”. This principle has since become the guiding ethos of my life, shaping me into an individual who values dignity and treats others with respect and kindness.
We are the generation with the unfortunate privilege of witnessing an unprecedented event in human history – the COVID-19 pandemic. This global crisis changed many lives dramatically; mine is one of them. For 14 years, I wore the dual hats of a lab manager and senior clinical research coordinator role at Canada’s largest mental health teaching hospital. During this time, my work revolved around government-funded academic clinical research projects and pharmaceutical company-funded clinical trials in nuclear medicine, specifically with Positron Emission Tomography Scans (PET).
As I delved deeper into this field, I grew interested in the pharmaceutical industry and aspiration for a comprehensive clinical research experience, ranging from preclinical to Phase 4. Leaving behind a well-paying and highly esteemed job was not a decision I took lightly. However, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed me to make the change. I left the hospital environment in 2022 and embarked on a new chapter of my career in clinical research by joining BioPharma Services in January 2023.
Since my journey with BioPharma Services began, not only have I realized a transformation in my work ethic, but my family has noticed a significant shift in my energy. I used to be a 9-5 regular-hour staff at the hospital, but now, as a Phase 1 studies manager, I find myself diving into protocols on weekends, reading team messages from my cozy bed, and sifting through emails in the early morning hours. But I do all these not because I have to, it is because I want to.
I wanted to know what is happening in our clinic and how our studies are going; I am passionate on how our participants are doing, and I want to assist my CRC team with tasks that require an extra hand. The people at BioPharma Services are incredibly supportive and warm. The diversity here makes every company event a cultural celebration. I was amazed by a group of professionals, the highly knowledgeable Principal Investigators, professional Clinical nurses, skilled technicians, dedicated CRCs with Can-Do attitude, and steadfast, supportive management leaders. Our workplace is like a magnet that draws me to work every day.
I remember how fascinated I was by the BioPharmas Clinical Operation capacities when I first began. Phase 1 studies, Bioanalytical and Bioequivalence studies with all sorts of investigational drugs for mental illness, neurological diseases, genetic disorders, heart disease, diabetes, you name it.
As a clinical research staff with a medical background, I was astounded by the range of IMP studies conducted at BioPharma Services. I was impressed by the meticulously structured SOPs that comprehensively covered everything I knew and could think of in the realm of Clinical Trial Management. I joined as a Senior Clinical Research Coordinator and with a team effort, I successfully managed various BA, BE and Phase 1 studies. In about ten months, I was promoted to Phase 1 Study Manager.
This change in my role represents a recognition from the leadership and serves as a milestone in my pursuit of greater goals. But none of this would happen without a great team’s support and mentorship of our management. I still remember my phone interview with our EVP, Renee John. I was struck by her direct and insightful questions, which set the tone for the exciting work that awaited me. She has been an inspirational role model for us all and inspired our enthusiasm.
The vibrant company events and initiatives demonstrate her genuine concern and affection for the employees. My direct supervisor and the director of clinical operations, Ryan Best, has been a source of motivation and solid support. Every piece of advice he offered was concise and efficient. I will forever remember the smile on his face upon my goal accomplishment. There is a saying, “A little kindness goes a long way.” Ryan’s smile brightened my day and reinforced my commitment to this team and organization.
Our Principal Investigators, Dr. Faulknor and Dr. Szeto’s profound knowledge in clinical medicine and expertise in Clinical Trials, have guided our clinical research in the right direction. Their unwavering support for CRC’s growth and success makes this a great place to work. Their commitment to rigorous clinical research ethics and adherence to Good Clinical Practice guarantee the safety of our volunteers and the credibility of our clinical research findings.
The scientific clinical research in Phase 1 studies not only delves into treatments for rare diseases but also impacts the well-being and safety of future generations. I am honoured to work alongside such conscientious Principal Investigators. Each workday in my role as a Phase 1 Studies Manager at BioPharma Services is a source of personal satisfaction, and I firmly believe in my capacity to continue growing with this company, where our potential knows no bounds.
My story is more than just a professional trajectory; it’s a testament to the indomitable spirit within all of us, waiting for the right moment to shine. Navigating through societal expectations, facing the challenges of global crises, and coming out stronger with each test, I’ve learned that our journeys can inspire those around us.
At BioPharma Services, I’ve found more than just a workplace; I’ve found a community, a purpose, and a platform for limitless growth. With my foundation built on the principles of dignity and respect passed down from my father, I’m excited and optimistic about the future chapters of my journey, hopeful that they’ll be as impactful and transformative as those before.
Written By: Xin (Cynthia) Xu, Phase 1 Study Manager