I check what’s going on in the world via Twitter, Morning Ireland, the newspapers, before taking Maisie, our golden retriever, for a walk in nearby Phoenix Park. Pre-pandemic, I was commuting to our office in DCU in Glasnevin and owning a dog was impossible. Covid-19 changed everything.
I tuck into porridge ahead of a leadership team meeting. We have 55 staff, mainly scientists, and the team is representative of them – biometrics, clinical, research, finance, quality. We discuss what’s going on in our trials. When a cancer trial takes place, someone has to write the protocol, train the hospital staff and make sure patients are safe. Some of our team go into the hospitals to check that everything is working properly.
Covid restrictions meant some sites couldn’t let us in. We were also hit in terms of recruiting patients to our trials – down from 250 a year to about 125.
I call our clinical lead, Prof Ray McDermott, to discuss our trials, including a really interesting trial in rare blood cancer that we are planning to open in these challenging times. We’ve experienced some delays getting ethical approval – necessary to run a trial – but fortunately we have just secured government agreement for a National Research Ethics Committee. At the moment there are 12 committees, so a single committee will really help streamline and harmonise the process.
I talk to the Irish Cancer Society about planning around the fantastic news that a very successful Daffodil Day [appeal] has allowed it to double its commitment to us, from €0.5m to €1m. As we are a not-for-profit academic organisation, this is terrific.
I have work to do around setting up an implementation committee on foot of a fantastic initiative that allows us to collaborate with our Northern Ireland counterpart and also the National Cancer Institute in the US. It will mean more supports for our researchers on both sides of the border.
I talk to Prof Séamus O’Reilly at Cork University Hospital, our vice clinical lead, about an upcoming retreat. It’s taking place on May 21, ahead of International Clinical Trials Day, and about 100 people are taking part.
I’m a kayaker, so I hop on the canal for an hour to clear the head. Then home to my husband, Martin Chambers for a good chat over dinner.