- What started your scientific vocation?
Ever since I was little, I have been drawn to scientific subjects. Even though I really had no idea of what science was, I chose to study biology at University mostly because it was something I was keen on learning. It was during my University studies that I first discovered the thrill of research. I wouldn’t say it was a specific moment that ignited my vocation but rather a journey getting to know both science and myself.
- What is now your area of expertise and what draw you to this field of research?
I have experience in oncology and genetics because that is what I focused my PhD thesis on. I initiated my research characterizing a cancer model in fruit flies; however, in a fortunate turn of events, I ended up testing personalized treatment combinations in that model. That was my first incursion into translational and clinical research, and it made me decide to make a career shift into clinical research. I took a clinical monitoring master and started working at Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR).
- And what brought you to EU-PEARL?
It was serendipity in my case. I found an open position and discovered that the goals and principles of the project resonated with me. EU-PEARL advocates for patient centricity by including the patient perspective in the trial design phase and supporting better health and care for patients. It has also been a fantastic learning opportunity as I have been submerged into the field of Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver disease (NAFLD) a fairly common but unknown disease.
At the NASH team, I am lucky to work with worldly renowned experts in the field, both from industry and academia, working together to improve drug development and how clinical trials are conducted.
- What is your role in the project?
I am the project manager for the NASH (Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis) team, that means that together with the WP6 leaders, I make sure that the project goes on as planned and that we fulfil all our goals and milestones. Also, I try to have a global vision of the project so that I can help coordinate the NASH team with the rest of the work packages.
- Which main challenge are you contributing to address?
At the NASH team, I am lucky to work with worldly renowned experts in the field, both from industry and academia, working together to improve drug development and how clinical trials are conducted. To do so, we are building a platform trial that will allow testing multiple new treatments or treatment combinations simultaneously, thereby saving time, money and, more importantly, reducing the number of patients that need to participate in the trial.
Personally, it has been an incredible experience to see how all these great professionals from different fields and backgrounds come together with patient representatives to achieve their common goals.
- What impact will this have?
At EU-PEARL, we are building a platform trial for four different diseases with high unmet needs where this change will be most beneficial. However important this is, I hope that the integrated research platform and all the transversal tools that are being built will help others start building their own platform trials. This will bring a fundamental change in the paradigm of how clinical trials are conducted.
- Thinking about your personal experience in EU-PEARL, what learnings will you take away from your participation in the project?
EU-PEARL is a massive project with over 300 experts participating. Personally, it has been an incredible experience to see how all these great professionals from different fields and backgrounds come together with patient representatives to achieve their common goals.
Lada Murcia, PhD is Project Manager at the Liver Unit, Vall d’Hebrón University Hospital. Vall d’Hebron Research Institute (VHIR).