By: Dan Sharpe

This was my first Collaborations in Clinical Research event. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but I was excited to attend. The event officially started at 5pm in the HP center but there were a few attendees who arrived early, mingling with one another as the rest of the attendees filtered in. By 5:15 the house was packed. Collaborations had laid out a spread of food and drinks for those that hadn’t yet had dinner or were just feeling a bit peckish. (The mini samosas were a big hit.)

What struck me as interesting was the variety of people in attendance. There were professionals who had 30 years in the industry chatting with newcomers just finding their place in the world of clinical science, and even a number of recent grads. With so much innovation and advancement in the industry, it makes sense that everyone from top to bottom would want to gain a better understanding of what the field of data management looks like today.

After an hour of mingling, the conversation with Karen Green and Gina Budman began. Kunal Sampat did an excellent job of moderating; his questions were thought provoking and the answers given by Karen and Gina spoke to their deep understanding of the subject.

Among the topics discussed, something that struck me as interesting were the skills required to be a good data manager. There is obviously a need for an attention to detail and a strong inclination to be analytical; one needs to be able to understand the data and then be able to catch any abnormalities or mistakes. But beyond those necessary hard skills, both Gina and Karen agreed, that a successful Data Manager required a solid set of soft skills. Much of the position requires the ability to communicate with various team members and third parties, including those running the sites. They both stressed the need for good communication skills to aid in making queries to the sites that are both succinct and strike the right tone to be the most effective in getting the sites to do exactly what you ask.

Beyond the specific skills necessary, Gina and Karen spoke on the overlap of the roles of Data Manager and Project Manager. Managing timelines and having a high level understanding of the trial and its data. That is, anticipating the risks of the trial and how to prepare for them. Furthermore, before the trial even begins, a successful Data Manager will have a plan for the creation and management of the database where the data from the trial will be stored. Much of what makes a trial successful is in its preparation; having the project managing skills to plan into the future and keep things on schedule are invaluable to a Data Manager.

Overall I really enjoyed the event. It was professional but casual in tone. I came away with a greater understanding of what data management is and what it takes to be successful in the field. I also made a number of valuable connections through the networking portion of the evening. Collaborations in Clinical Research did an excellent job in organizing and executing the event. I will definitely be attending the next one they put on.