ICTM logo

An interview with Alex, a data manager working on our HIV studies.

What do you do?

I work on two trials in children which are both taking place in Africa. My main responsibility is to oversee the collection of data in these trials and to ensure it is accurate. The data are collected by the trial teams in the African centres, and they enter it on the database. I must make sure the data are entered in a timely fashion and are consistent. The data then go to the statistician, who might ask me to query more things with the doctors and trial teams.

I also assist the trial manager with the overall running of the trials. We write and update various trial documents such as protocols and case report forms, which are used by the doctors to record information about the patients in the trial. We have to ensure that the trials are running in accordance with the Good Clinical Practice guidelines.

What does a typical day look like?

A typical day might involve a teleconference with the teams working in Africa. We would discuss the running of the trial, recruitment and any data queries. Sometimes important clinical events in the trial might be faxed through to me and I must review these, and send them to our clinician if necessary.

What skills and qualifications do you need to be a data manager?

I have a degree in Biology and a masters in Epidemiology. Though these aren’t necessarily essential for my job, they provide me with a good scientific background and the skills needed to do my job well. I have to be very organised with good attention to detail. A large part of my job involves communicating clearly, both written and orally, with many different people. Although I work as part of team, I often have to make decisions following guidance from trial documents, such as manuals of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) or protocols.

What’s the potential for career development?

There are opportunities for training relevant to my job. This job provides me with the experience necessary for promotion to jobs such as trial or project manager, particularly as I work across different trials, and also to data scientist. There are also opportunities in pharmaceutical companies or other medical research organisations.