A global pandemic is a unique challenge we are all facing together. Dr Sophie Mepham is a strongly committed IMNIS mentor in medtech-pharma in Melbourne. We invited Sophie to share her advice for PhD students and early-career researchers to help them manage and navigate this hurdle.
Stay informed, keep learning, stay resilient

Dr Sophie Mepham, Executive Manager Research Global, Icon Group and IMNIS mentor in medtech-pharma in Victoria [photo: provided]

In these challenging times, there are many opportunities to learn from what is happening in regards to research for COVID19. Many centres are looking for volunteers to support clinical trials and several clinical research organisations are offering free webinars and learning opportunities in this area. For those continuing in their research, make sure your family is prioritised and that work fits in around other home activities wherever possible – don’t try and fit everything in.

… don’t be afraid to reach out to key people on social media and offer your time if you can – most people will jump at the chance to have an extra pair of hands, and it’s also a great opportunity to add such experiences to your curriculum vitae

There are a number of opportunities in COVID19 research at the moment and lots of opportunities to volunteer and learn. Staying connected and engaged is important, so don’t be afraid to reach out to key people on social media and offer your time if you can – most people will jump at the chance to have an extra pair of hands, and it’s also a great opportunity to add such experiences to your curriculum vitae. Engage in activities where you’ll keep learning and strengthening your skills.

Look for people around you who may also be struggling and what you could offer them – help each other, listen to each other, stay connected.

It is also good to use this time to focus on writing-up – whatever you can – in regards to your PhD thesis. It’s a great opportunity to have dedicated time for writing, reading or referencing. Look for people around you who may also be struggling and what you could offer them – help each other, listen to each other, stay connected. Resilience is key – we will come out of this and those who have used this time to expand their network, learn from others, volunteer their time and/or focus on how they can help others will shine on the other side – and it’s never too late to start.

Staying healthy and well has been so important to me. I prioritise getting my children set up for school first thing in the morning and try not to schedule meetings early so I can focus on this. I make sure I walk my dogs in the local park every day without fail and have downloaded a great home workout app which I also use every day. I also use relaxation apps every day.

About the author: 

Dr Sophie Mepham has worked in clinical research for over 20 years and is currently Executive Manager Research Global at Icon Group. Prior to this Sophie was National Research Manager for GenesisCare, specialising in research that focuses on Theranostics, medical oncology and radiotherapy treatments. Sophie has also worked as Senior Manager, Translational and Clinical Research and for 3 years as the Head of the Clinical Trials Unit at Peter Mac, covering all specialities of oncology trials, from first in human, through to phase III. Before taking up this role in Australia, Sophie worked in the UK managing a haematology clinical trials unit for 8 years and then subsequently for 2 years as a Research & Development Manager for all clinical research across a large NHS hospital as part of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). She has a PhD in Oncology/Immunology and is an NIHR accredited GCP trainer and GCP program lead. Sophie also runs her own private consulting firm, Sophie Mepham GCP, providing Good Clinical Practice training and support to Australian hospitals, research institutions and Universities. Sophie is a committed IMNIS mentor in medtech-pharma Victoria.