Christina Fawcett, Director of Project Operations, RWS, will be the first to tell you that the clinical research industry is often resistant to change. Even though the world doesn’t look the same today as it did even five years ago, our industry still does things the way they were done 30 years ago. Christina’s philosophy is to look past what we've always done and adjust. If we don’t, we’ll be left behind.
Through her work on high-profile trials like the CHIEF (Canagliflozin: Impact on Health Status, Quality of Life and Functional Status) heart failure study, Christina knows when to take risks and get ahead of the curve. She has helped build virtual/decentralized clinical research options for sponsors in ways that create opportunities for future research.
Get to know Christina and the insights she shares about our industry below.
In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge you face today in our industry?
It’s still challenging to convince sponsors that research is changing. We still have in-depth discussions about why 100% SDV is no longer necessary or required per the regulations, and how adaptive monitoring approaches can be implemented. With technological advancements, I predict the same conversations will be ongoing for many years.
Why did you become involved in clinical research? What sparked your interest?
Honestly, I fell into it after college. I loved it and never looked back.
In your experience, what has been the most important factor that has changed drug development?
Right now, I would say COVID-19 is going to be a large factor in changing mindsets on how research can be implemented, both in time and in process.
What is the biggest misconception people have about clinical trials?
Many people have the misconception that the cost of medication stems purely from a profit-based mindset. However, people often aren’t aware of how much time and money it takes to get a drug to market. I try to inform people how costly and time-consuming that process truly is and remind them that it’s all in the name of patient safety.
What advice would you give to the next generation of researchers?
Don’t be afraid to present new ideas! We are all getting old in our ways. Fresh perspectives help us think outside the box.
How has clinical research affected your life personally?
Over the years, I’ve connected people to life-saving research opportunities. Most recently, working in rare disease, I’ve used my network to find research opportunities for people whose children suffer from rare and devastating diseases. It’s a difficult space to navigate, and on top of being a parent, it’s nothing short of overwhelming. If I can lessen that load in any way by making those connections, I will continue to do so.
If you had to describe yourself in three words, which would you choose?
Efficient. Reliable. Solution-oriented.
If you think back, at what point could you have chosen a different career path and what would it have been?
I wanted to go back to school and get into medicine, perhaps as a PA or NP. I wish I would have thought about that coming out of high school. By the time I went back to school in my late 20s, it was too difficult to keep up with the classroom workload while working full-time.
What’s a fun fact about your childhood?
I grew up in South Philadelphia and went to a Special Admit school in Center City for middle and high school. I rode the subway to school by myself when I was 10 years old. Most people think that’s crazy, if not negligent, but it was not uncommon for the time and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I learned so much by taking on that responsibility at such a young age.
This was also the same school that Leslie Odom, Jr. attended—yes, I walked the halls with Aaron Burr, sir!
If you were to write a self-help book, what would the topic be?
How to Make Time for Yourself in the Midst of Chaos.
Christina is the Senior Director of Real World Solutions, Digital Health at PRA Health Sciences. Through her work on high-profile trials like the CHIEF (Canagliflozin: Impact on Health Status, Quality of Life and Functional Status) decentralized heart failure study, Christina knows when to take risks and get ahead of the curve. She was drawn to late-phase work because of its real-world challenges and the work always feels new and relevant. She has helped build virtual/decentralized clinical research options for sponsors, in turn creating opportunities for future research.
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