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The New Frontier: Neuroscience, Digital Health and Clinical Trials Part I

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New to Neuro

Mary Hayek – passionate project manager

Mary Hayek has been part of Neuroscience Trials Australia (Neuro Trials) for over three years and has more than 10 years’ experience as a project manager in clinical trials.  She says being part of a not-for-profit CRO, especially one that is well-renowned, highly respected, and closely affiliated with the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health has been a career highlight. ‘I am honoured to be part of the team (at NTA), we are a unique and niche CRO, like no other’ declared Mary. Her enthusiasm for the CRO stems from the novel work the group is doing in the neuroscience field. ‘Research within the neurosciences has seen some very exciting advances with plenty more to be explored. Being a niche CRO I have loved the opportunity to hone my skills within this therapeutic area.’

Mary believes there are two fundamental skills that are essential in the clinical trials industry: high-level organisational skills, and excellent communication skills.  She explains ‘You need to be able to plan backwards to move projects forward and clearly communicate with all stakeholders at every stage in the clinical trial process!’ ‘As a science graduate, I feel so lucky to have entered the clinical trials industry and I encourage all graduates considering the industry to just…do it! This industry offers a wide scope of work to suit any interest, be it pre-clinical laboratory, clinical operations, regulatory, pharmacovigilance, safety monitoring, medical writing and more.’  Mary enthuses ‘I have been able to transfer my skills internationally and have met some incredibly talented people.’

At present, Mary is working on two first-in-human studies. One is a career first – a surgical study for Parkinson’s Disease being conducted under Clinical Trial Exemption (CTX). The most challenging aspect of this project, she says, has been working with the team to define the procedures and source equipment, it is something that has not been done before. Mary states ‘Working with such a talented team is very inspiring’. The other is a first-in-human drug trial. She says, ‘The scientific team here have been tireless in evaluating and re-evaluating at each step along the way – it has been exciting to see the study evolve and morph into a success.’

Mary also shared with us her favourite moment working in clinical trials.  She said it was ‘While chatting to a friend who was studying medicine in the US, she casually mentioned how a research project coming out of Australia has changed a common practice in Intensive Care. I let her tell me every detail, while smiling on the other end of the phone… then told her I was a part of that team. It was nice to see all the hard work pay off and be recognised.’

When we asked Mary if there was anything she would want to do, she professed ‘Once upon time I would have said travelling to every corner of the world, now I would say sitting around a large dining table surrounded by family, good friends, good food and plenty of laughs. I am pretty much an open book, I happily share my life stories and enjoy a laugh!’