Masters sport course was my route into clinical trials

Tomos Williams completed the MSc Sport, Health and Exercise Science course at the University of South Wales (USW) and is now working as a Research Physiologist. Here, Tomos reflects on his time studying at USW and how the skills he learnt help him within his current role.

“For me, the most important and exciting elements of the course were the practicals. These gave me a better idea of how data is collected and analysed, as well as first-hand experience of some of the challenges researchers face. This prepared me for my research project, where I was fortunate enough to work alongside academic staff on a large-scale study, giving me invaluable experience of how modern studies are organised and delivered.

As part of the professional work-based development module within the course, I secured a placement as an Assistant Laboratory Technician at USW. This role allowed me to gain experience in teaching both college and undergraduate students, as well maintaining a busy working laboratory. This opportunity furthered my knowledge of physiological testing and helped me develop my communications skills within a professional workplace.

My experiences from the course, in conjunction with the personal and technical skills that I developed, spring boarded my research career. Currently, I work as a Research Physiologist at Simbec-Orion, which is the only phase 1 clinical research facility in Wales. When I started, I was surprised by how relevant the knowledge I acquired during the course was and it ensured that I was able to complete my everyday tasks competently. Being able to discuss essential portions of study design with sponsors and colleagues on how best to address issues regarding study feasibility is extremely rewarding.

As part of my role, I have been given the responsibility of Study Officer. This requires me to read a protocol that covers the entire outline of the study, which I review for pharmaceutical company clients, build a framework for the paperwork entailed in the study and to confirm study feasibility. Once this has been finalised, I screen volunteers prior to dosing, then depending on the study, I will also conduct a range of physiological measures. These typically include RT-PCR testing, measuring blood pressure, body temperature, oxygen levels, heart rate and lung function, as well completing venepuncture, cannulation, electrocardiograms and urinalysis.

I hope to continue to further myself within clinical research and/or seek PhD funding with Simbec-Orion.”