“Clinical trials help improve medical practice and discover new treatments” – meet Idah Mojela
Idah Mojela is lead research nurse for HIV & Infectious Disease at Imperial College Healthcare. For International Clinical Trials Day, Saturday 20 May, she tells us what attracted her to a career in research and why clinical trials are important.
How long have you been at the Trust and what do you love most about your role as lead research nurse for HIV & Infectious Diseases?
I have been at the Trust since 2001 in the Cardiac Intensive Unit and that is where I started my clinical research career in 2012. I love being at the forefront of leading research projects and being part of the team that is discovering new treatment choices for people living with HIV (PLWH).
What attracted you to work in research and would you encourage other clinicians to get involved in research, particularly at the Trust?
I have always had an inquisitive mind and I am always questioning things as I want to know the rationale behind them. Research was the best place for me to exercise this innate desire to understand the inner workings of everything and this is particularly interesting within the healthcare sector.
I would encourage all clinicians to be involved in research because all medical care we provide for our patients is evidence based, and you get to discover new ways of delivering care and treating patients.
What does a typical working day look like for you?
My day-to-day involves attending research related meetings with investigators and responding to emails. I also collaborate with stakeholders, such as the Joint Research Office (JRO) to set up new research projects, and with sponsors and funders such as the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and the NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) who provide vital funding for some of our research projects.
There are distinct research themes within BRC and infection is one of the priority areas where research efforts are being concentrated. The team leader of the Infectious Disease Research team is fully funded by BRC to deliver infectious disease studies. It is great to have this kind of investment in research and this recognition of its worth.
Saturday 20 May is International Clinical Trials Day. Why are clinical trials important?
Clinical trials are important as they help to improve medical practice and to discover new treatments or new ways to repurpose existing treatments for use in other conditions. For example, during the Covid-19 pandemic, we discovered that Dexamethasone could be used to treat people with the infection.
In the past year (April 1, 2022 – March 31, 2023), we have supported ten clinical trials related to HIV and Infectious disease within my team.
Within your area, what has been the impact of clinical trials to date?
The impact has been very evident in that the treatment choice for people living with HIV in the last 20 years has evolved so much: from taking tablets to injectables and now we are trialing intravenous infusion antibodies which will make our patients’ lives easier and reduce pill burden.
How do you involve the public in your research - why would you encourage them to get involved?
We directly approach the patients who come to us through our outpatient department and we encourage them to get involved in our research by explaining what their participation could look like. We also keep leaflets in the outpatients department advertising the different studies that we are conducting so that patients can educate themselves whilst they wait for their appointments. Most recently, we had a successful webinar in research and we are planning another one soon where our principal investigators will talk about some of the studies we are currently recruiting for.
Research is important to improve and save lives. This is why we need new volunteers all the time.
How can we ensure that the standard of clinical trials remains high?
Education and training in research is paramount. Good Clinical Practice (GCP) is our main guideline for keeping the integrity of the research standard high at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.