Research nurse’s poster on complex cancer study wins first prize at public event

“It’s all about collaboration. Collaboration with people across the Cambridge Biomedical Campus was key to getting this study off the ground,” was the first thing Jason Domingo, senior clinical research charge nurse from the NIHR Cambridge Clinical Research Facility (CRF) said on winning the poster competition at the NIHR Cambridge BRC open evening which took place in November.

His poster highlighted the crucial elements of working with multiple hospital teams to set up a complex cancer trial and to try and improve the patient’s research journey.

The poster was one of 14 on display and was voted the winner by members of the public and healthcare professionals.

“This particular cancer trial involved a multi-team effort,” Jason emphasised. “It was a first-in-human trial to be hosted at the NIHR Cambridge CRF and we were only one of nine sites in the world. This treatment-trial was looking at radiation therapy to see if it could help patients with advanced tumours with overexpression of Gastrin-Releasing Peptide Receptor (GRPR), a receptor normally present on some body cells.

“The trial involved giving a radiation infusion to patients, they would then have regular bloods taken and scans to monitor the effects of the treatment. As well as providing radiation treatment, we were dealing with lots of new equipment like a dosimeter and Geiger-Muller contamination monitor that detects and measures radiation that you have been exposed to.

“This meant we had to set up our clinical rooms in a certain way and learn how to monitor radiation levels safely. All the staff had specific radiation safety training and learned how to use the right protective clothing and decontamination procedures.

“In order to set the study up in the CRF, we had to work closely with the hospital’s Cambridge Cancer Trials Centre, Nuclear Medicine, Estates and Facilities, Clinical Trials Pharmacy and Infection Control teams as well as the researchers, it was a team effort. Nuclear Medicine staff provided us with safety training to make sure we could run the study and we also completed risk assessments on members of staff to make sure they were safe to work on the trial.  

“Being a patient-centric trial we then wanted to make sure the patients had a full understanding of what was involved and we wanted to them to have a good experience. The trial involved them staying overnight multiple times and some of the patients participating were coming from outside Cambridge.  

“We then decided to invite eligible patients to come and look around the facility, to see their private en-suite room, meet the staff and have the opportunity to ask any questions.  

“When they joined the trial it went really well. The radiation levels we were dealing with were low and safe for us to work, we were very well monitored by the hospital’s nuclear medicine team. The estates team ensured that trial’s urine samples will not contaminate others’, and infection control team made sure we had the right protective clothing and minimised any risks.

“The patients were comfortable and closely monitored, and they gave some really nice feedback at the end of their visits. They liked the facilities, knowing the hospital was nearby and enjoyed the calming atmosphere of the CRF.

“We knew this trial was going to be a new challenge but we had the support of so many hospital teams. We couldn’t have done it without them and part of this award goes to them as well.”

Jason Domingo, senior clinical research nurse and Caroline McMahon, Patient and Public Involvement Coordinator

Caroline McMahon, patient and public involvement coordinator at the NIHR Cambridge CRF, who worked on the poster with Jason said: “This poster is a prime example of why CRFs exist. We provide a dedicated space with experienced research nurses, facilities, expertise, resources and support staff to run trials like this, and without the help of other teams this study just wouldn’t have happened. Now the staff have this experience it means we can run more of these kind of trials in the future. Cambridge is an amazing place to do research, we’re fortunate that our CRF is based in the heart of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus and can work collaboratively with many different specialities.”

Jason added: “But it’s not just having the facilities and space, it’s the patients who really make a difference. Without our participants we couldn’t do research. I want to thank them all, any contribution whether it’s giving feedback or taking part in a trial makes a huge difference and it’s really valuable to us. Truly, today’s research has the potential to become tomorrow’s care and practice.”

Jason Domingo, senior clinical research charge nurse, poster winner
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