"I consent patients to trials, as well as collecting data and samples."
Clinical trials coordinator Salma Kadiri is based at the Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham.
Heartlands Hospital is part of University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) NHS Foundation Trust, the largest Trust in the country. UHB is amongst the most research-active Trusts in the UK, with thousands of patients taking part in research every year.
In recent months, the research, development and innovation department at UHB has prioritised research into COVID-19, as well as supporting frontline clinical services.
Salma has been working with the research team to help with the clinical trials, especially working closely with patients involved in the trials.
DESIblitz exclusively spoke to Salma Kadiri to find out more about her role and the status of the COVID-19 clinical trials.
How has the pandemic affected your work?
Normally, I work as a research practitioner.
I have worked in research for eight years, and have previously worked in educational psychology before moving onto respiratory research. The team that I worked in focused on thoracic (lung) surgery research.
I am the lead for two clinical trials. These are Fit 4 Surgery (asking patients to complete a set of exercises before lung surgery) and Project Murray (a trial aimed at encouraging patients to stop smoking).
My background is in Health Psychology. I am interested in health behaviours and beliefs of patients, and have written publications and attended conferences on this topic.
The current pandemic has led to a lot of research across the country being paused.
In Birmingham, some of my colleagues have been redeployed to help out in other areas of the hospital such as critical care, pharmacy and bereavement. I was asked to work on clinical trials related to COVID-19 and have been working on these since March.
What is your role in the research team?
Currently, I consent patients to trials, as well as collecting data and samples.
One of the main studies I am working on is called ISARIC, which is collecting health data from 260 hospitals across England, Scotland and Wales.
The data is from patients who were admitted in hospital between February and May and were diagnosed with COVID-19. This data allows scientists to analyse risk factors, admission rates
and mortality rates.
I’m also working on another study which looks at the effect of a single intravenous infusion of Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (MSCs) in patients with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) in COVID 19 patients.
People who are critically ill often develop lung failure, including a number of patients with COVID-19.
MSCs are cells which originate in the human body and can help the body to repair. When MSCs are used as a treatment, they have been shown to reduce the body’s immune response when it is overactive and causing damage. This study is examining if this could be an effective treatment for ARDS.
I have also worked on a number of antibody test studies, including some developed in Birmingham, and have been part of the team delivering antibody tests for UHB staff.
Who is your team working with?
We are working with a number of other organisations on COVID-19 research, including the University of Birmingham, University of Oxford and other Trusts.
Within UHB, we have research nurses who would previously have worked in different specialities, biomedical scientists, research practitioners, clinical trial coordinators and data managers all working together to deliver these urgent clinical trials and studies as quickly as possible.
It has been a stressful time with the intense, fast-paced nature of the trials but we have all been very adaptable and are used to working with tight deadlines and time frames.
Teamwork and collaboration as an overall research unit have been great, with a united focus to help deliver valuable research to patients as quickly and effectively as possible, with the importance of research during a pandemic clear to us all.
Another benefit to being involved in this research has been seeing the support for and knowledge of clinical research being positively received by other staff, patients and the general public.
What is the progress with a vaccine?
I haven’t been working on this directly but colleagues at UHB have been recruiting people across the West Midlands to the Oxford Vaccine Group’s COVID-19 vaccine trial, which aims to test how well a new vaccine works against COVID-19.
The trial aims to recruit thousands of people across the UK and results on how well the vaccine works are expected later in 2020.
As Salma Kadiri reveals, lots of effort and incredible work is being done by the NHS to work towards helping find a vaccine which aims to help work against the worldly pandemic of coronavirus.
The clinical trials and COVID-19 research being conducted with the involvement of Heartlands Hospital, UHB, UOB and others, is a prime example of how the collective and combined effort is being engaged to find a way to fight this deadly virus.