In our work at Novella Clinical, we are rightfully focused on exceeding our customers’ expectations through innovative strategies, the quality of our deliverables, and achieving study goals on time and within budget. Our work is highly specialized and technical, and for the most part, at arm’s length from the patient. A colleague and I play a game when we pass each other in the hall. She asks me “What are you doing today, Joy?” and I always answer the same way: “Trying to cure cancer!” I am not working in a laboratory, examining novel pathways and mechanisms of action. I am not treating patients, or making difficult decisions about their care. But I like to remind myself that everything we do at Novella is toward that goal: improving patients’ lives.
I was meeting with a sponsor recently, discussing a new class of CAR-T-like therapies that hold potential for a very significant leap forward in cancer care, at least for some. At the end of the meeting, I explained how I have spent my life studying fatal diseases. How, early in my career, I had a front row seat for the discovery of protease inhibitors, and how new cocktails of treatments converted AIDS from a quick and horrible death to a chronic disease. I said I haven’t seen that happen again in more than 20 years of research, until now. Today, in the context of their therapy, we can dare to use the “C” word – CURE. It is a privilege to work with our customers and maybe change the lives of patients and their families. They get it. We get it. We are doing this for patients.
Not all of us are comfortable thinking in these terms and the challenges for patients in clinical trials. If we focus on the lives we cannot save, our burden would be heavy, indeed. Here’s what I say to anyone struggling in this industry. Imagine saving one life. Think of all the lives touched by that one life. I would say even one life is worth it. And we have saved lives! We do, every day. We may not do it directly, but a well-timed and well-run study that provides access to the right targeted treatment for the right patient can make all the difference. Even a failed study can save lives, by eliminating a treatment that has little potential to help a desperately ill patient so they can enroll in a study of a drug that just might.
Yes, we work in a business with budgets and annual objectives, and so do our customers. Those goals are important to our collective success. But our customers, and I would say each of us at Novella, we have been drawn to this business for the potential it holds to help and to heal. Don’t forget that on your next tough day when everything goes wrong. It’s worth it, and feel proud of that!
If you would like to speak with one of our oncology clinical trial strategists, please contact us here.