Exploring our own clinical questions through MIA's new trials initiative

Exploring our own clinical questions through MIA's new trials initiative

4 March 2021

Clinical trials are essential to the development of new treatments and identifying the best management strategies to help patients. Investigator-initiated clinical trials allow clinicians and researchers to test treatments developed from their own experience in treating patients and from working in the lab. Rather than being an initiative of the pharmaceutical industry, clinical trial concepts and strict protocols are developed by the researchers themselves.

Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA) conducts both types of clinical trials (investigator-initiated and industry-led), and our number of investigator-initiated trials is well above global benchmarks, allowing MIA to drive the research. These vitally important trials are only possible thanks to fundraising efforts and generous support from donors, as well as the substantial contribution of our patients.

Although we have been undertaking investigator-initiated trials for many years, MIA has recently established a dedicated Investigator Initiated Trials (IIT) program to oversee operations.

Our IITs are run at collaborative hospitals or research institutes around the country, in addition to The Poche Centre, meaning that patients beyond Sydney are able to participate in our research and receive potentially life-saving therapies.

After working in MIA’s Clinical Trials Program for the last four years, Monica Osorio is excited to now be heading up the Investigator Initiated Trials (IIT) Program as the Clinical Trials Operation Manager. Together with her small team, she currently manages the operations for four trials, with each trial running at up to six locations around the country. The role of the IITs team includes applying for funding, writing grant applications, developing the trial protocol and working closely with the other trial sites.

“We are in the process of setting up new clinical trials and are working at establishing our first international site in Oslo,” says Monica. “It is a new challenge to learn how things work in Europe as the regulations are very different to here in Australia.”

Monica’s newest team member is Guillermo Sanchez, appointed as a Senior Clinical Data Manager. Guillermo moved to Sydney from Columbia in November. Prior to working in clinical data management in Colombia, Guillermo was a veterinarian.

“I enjoy working at MIA and knowing that I’m working on investigator-led trials to benefit patients rather than profit. It makes me feel fulfilled,” says Guillermo.