From Bristol to Leeds: My Research Pathway to Leeds Children's Hospital
10 November 2020
Hello, My name is Mark Wareing and I am a Senior Clinical Trials Co-ordinator at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. I got my first taste of research in 1988 as an undergraduate physiology student in Bristol; the study looked at nerve fibres and pain reception in teeth. My most recent as a clinical trials coordinator, setting up and collecting data for the PERMIT Observational Study at Leeds Children’s Hospital PICU.
My research journey has taken in Bristol, Manchester (3 times), Yale and finally Leeds. A common denominator was that I was fortunate to work with inspirational mentors and teams with a love for research.
From 1989-92 I completed a PhD in Physiology at The University of Manchester. My mentor was renal physiologist Professor Roger Green and my thesis looked at ion and water transport in renal proximal tubules. I learnt an enormous amount from Roger but the most useful quality he instilled in me was the ability to persevere in order to obtain high quality, reproducible data.
I completed a 3 year post-doctoral position in Manchester and then, to broaden my research skills, I moved to Professor Peter Aronson’s team at Yale University, USA for two years. Peter was always enthusiastic about research and met weekly with every team member. This permitted early identification of potential hurdles and facilitated the ability to determine what was required to successfully answer the research question. I returned to Manchester in 1997 and successfully performed research focusing on divalent cation transport by renal tubules.
However, in 2001, I felt I needed a new challenge so I took a leap into the unknown and successfully applied for a post in The Maternal & Fetal Health Research Centre (MFHRC). Based in Manchester NHS trust, the unit’s focus was finding solutions to problem pregnancies.
I spent the next 17 years performing studies looking at treatments for pre-eclampsia and fetal growth restriction. The original team of four headed by Prof Phillip Baker and subsequently by Prof Colin Sibley, eventually expanded to over 70 members; this was a real multidisciplinary unit - midwives, clinicians, scientists, students and administrators - all working together. The ability of our unit leads to spot talent and build the team ethos, again with seemingly boundless energy, created a highly successful and vibrant research environment.
The vast majority of my research has been “basic” science. At MFHRC, a growing proportion of my role was in support of clinically focused studies (such as running a tissue bank for complicated pregnancy samples), where successful studies could, in a short space of time, significantly improve patient outcomes. I found this part of my role very satisfying.
In 2018, I took on a completely different challenge taking up a role as a senior clinical trials coordinator in Leeds Children’s Hospital Clinical Research Team. Our team of research nurses and administration staff supports local principal investigators in the set up and maintenance of an extensive paediatric clinical trial portfolio.
In April, I was redeployed to our Trust’s COVID-19 research team. The COVID Core team showed great adaptability, energy and willingness to go the extra mile in rapidly opening, managing and completing a range of COVID-focused studies. I have now returned to my team in paediatrics but have still been able to support the COVID team with the NOVAVAX vaccine trail currently recruiting in Leeds.
Recent weeks and months have certainly been very strange with each day bringing different challenges. However one thing has been consistent, my team in Leeds Children’s Hospital who demonstrate all the facets of successful research groups that I have been fortunate to be involved in during my career; inspirational leaders and enthusiastic colleagues, all of whom through high quality research are striving to improve care for their patients.