Circuit Connections—Meet Margaret
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.
Today, we're interviewing Margaret Scott, Senior Vice President, Clinical Operations, as part of our ongoing campaign: Circuit Connections.
When did you begin working in clinical research and expand to where you are today?
Like a lot of us, I fell into clinical research. While finishing college, I got a job at Frontier Science Technology and Research Foundation (FSTRF) doing data entry for the International Breast Cancer Study Group. I was doing double data entry on case report forms (CRFs) from around the world. I kept noticing that I had questions about discrepancies I saw on different forms for the same patient. I got promoted from data entry because I asked too many questions! It was the job of someone further down the line to ask the questions, but I kept seeing things and asking about them. So, when that position opened up, I was promoted. I moved into tech writing and site training from that position at the same company.
Travel has always been something that I enjoy personally. The opportunity to travel was a big part of why I fell in love with this work. I was lucky enough to travel for my work in my early 20s and excited to travel ANYWHERE my job would send me. I did a lot of training on sites in Peru, Hungary, Italy, and Switzerland. The ability to wrap that into work made the opportunities much more exciting for me. Traveling opened my eyes to different cultures, the importance of a global community, and the impact on research studies/treatments. In the HIV/AIDS study, the international component meant access to treatment and care in parts of the world where that’s difficult outside of research. Part of what drew me to work at Circuit Clinical is the drive toward equity and justice, starting with access.
Working with Buffalo-based businesses, I had some great experiences developing life-changing medications and devices. From FSTRF, I went to Applied Healthcare Research Management (AHRM), Inc., a small clinical research organization based in Buffalo. There, I had the opportunity to serve as a CRA and a project manager.
When my daughter was born, I returned to data management to get off the road. I went back to FSTRF and worked in HIV/AIDS and coinfections. This new position allowed me to work with sites worldwide and gave me my first interactions with patients. Each study had a patient advisor that gave us feedback on the protocol and the questionnaires. The patient advisors ensured that protocols were something that patients would be willing and able to participate in the study. They asked great questions about why we included specific procedures and pointed out how we might get the same information while making the protocol more manageable for those participating. That patient perspective in the HIV/AIDS setting opened my eyes to the importance of clinical research being a part of patients’ access to care, and I also learned about the burden the trials can place on the patients.
From FSTRF, I took an opportunity to join a multispecialty practice in Buffalo that focused on urology and radiation oncology. I worked with some brilliant physicians, nurses, administrators, and patients to build a clinical research program. Giving patients access to clinical trials as part of their options for their treatment became very important to me as I had the opportunity to work with patients more.
What made you want to work in clinical research (and/or healthcare)?
I fell in love with research when I started working in it, doing what I thought would be a temporary entry-level job. I thought I would finish school and head off to teach high school English (it’s better for everyone; that didn’t happen). As I learned more about all the different jobs and roles that make research happen, I realized there was a lot of opportunity to use my skills and learn new ones. I’m a “nerd at heart,” and the chance to work in a field that exposes you to fascinating science and technology was also exciting. As a kid, we lost my grandmother to breast cancer. I feel grateful to have worked on breast cancer research on an important study for treating women with this cancer. Working in breast cancer research made me feel like I was making a difference for others so they might not struggle as my grandmother did.
What is an example of a story/article that inspires you about doing clinical research?
The first study I worked on was the BIG 1-98 study looking at Letrozole vs. Tamoxifen as adjuvant endocrine therapy for women with HR+ breast cancer. Eight thousand women worldwide joined the study and partnered with their doctors on this vital project. Ten years later, the data from that study and the studies that came after helped determine the treatment plan for a close family member, who is now seven years cancer free. It’s a remarkable study that has helped define the treatment for many with breast cancer. There is no single interpretation of this trial; BIG 1-98 results helped weigh the risks and benefits of the various treatment options, leading to further research studies. To learn more, read here: https://breast-cancer-research.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/bcr2837.
One of our current trials at Circuit Clinical is a study on a product to keep people with peanut allergies safe. As a Girl Scout leader, I have a young scout in the troop who is allergic to peanuts. At our events, the entire troop is on a high alert so that she is never exposed, but I’ve seen firsthand, working with kids with allergies, how nerve-wracking a new restaurant, activity, or friend’s home can be for parents and their kids. As a mom and a clinical trialist, I’m proud to be a part of such a fantastic team working to make a difference in this space. To learn more about this study, click here: https://www.globenewswire.com/en/news-release/2022/10/26/2541990/0/en/Intrommune-Therapeutics-Completes-Enrollment-in-the-Phase-1-OMEGA-Study-for-Peanut-Allergy.html.