Circuit Connections—Amy Zuchelkowski
Here at Circuit Clinical, our team has experience across a broad span of multiple therapeutic areas. We believe in sharing this knowledge, experience, and their stories—they are incredibly important and valued as part of our company and culture.
Amy Zuchelkowsi, VP of Oncology Site Operations, began her research career working on Hepatitis research studies that were early studies to understand combination therapies. These early studies ultimately led to treatment that is curable in >90% of those affected with hepatitis C.
When did you begin working in clinical research and expand to where you are today?
I was first introduced to clinical research in 1996, when I worked as an RN at a large gastroenterology practice in Albany, NY. The team was conducting a clinical trial in treating chronic hepatitis C using interferon alfa monotherapy vs. combining interferon and ribavirin. Their research RN had left and needed someone to fill in on the study.
Five years later, I became a pharmaceutical representative. One of my key physicians was a lipidologist. During a sales call, he asked if I would ever consider a profession in clinical research. He said my focus was always on the recent literature and patient outcomes, and he thought I would enjoy a full-time career in clinical research—the rest is history. I have been in clinical research at the site level my entire research career.
What made you want to work in clinical research (and/or healthcare)?
I knew I wanted to be in healthcare. My parents would tell stories about how I would play the game Operation for hours at the young age of 3; I would operate on Cavity Sam for hours while focusing on doing it with no buzzing sound. I always wanted to be a world-renowned brain surgeon, but I became a Registered Nurse instead—I don’t regret my decision at all.
What drove me to choose research stemmed from my one interaction with the hepatitis C study I referenced earlier. I remember seeing several patients having an impressive virologic response to the treatment. While we have made significant advances in treating hepatitis C, where today it is curable in >90% of patients, in 1996, the results were transformative. It felt amazing to be part of something bigger. From that moment on, a passion led me on this incredible journey, and it has been “in my blood” ever since.
What is an example of a story/article that inspires you about doing clinical research?
I remember the day—it was in the early evening of our monthly all-provider meeting. This meeting was special since it was the end of our fiscal year. As the Director of Research at a sizeable physician-owned community oncology practice, I presented the research wins for the year, followed by what was on the horizon for next year. I talked through each item on the slide; it seemed like forever until I got to the last bullet point—the one I had been waiting to share for several weeks. We would be starting the process of offering CAR-T research trials for hematologic malignancies in the outpatient setting. I remember looking at our practice president and the expressions of our other hematologists in the room. It wasn’t the response I was expecting because the thought of developing a CAR-T program seven years ago was no easy task. With the expertise, and commitment of our research investigators, research department, and the entire practice, we successfully built a CAR-T program. I will never forget the day we enrolled our first patient. It was an unforgettable moment, a true inspiration that I hold deep in my heart.
To learn more about CAR-T cell therapy, click here.
"Every FDA-approved drug currently on the market treating diseases, managing side effects, and decreasing morbidity and mortality is the direct result of a clinical trial. I thank the many participants who made this possible. Depending on the source, clinical trial enrollment rates in the US hovers around 8-10%. We must continue to educate the healthcare community and potential participants about clinical trials, so patients have clinical trials as a care option when making an informed decision about their treatment."
~ Amy Zuchelkowski