Q&A Coffee Sessions



Welcome to Q&A Coffee Sessions. This page will be updated monthly with interviews with some of our EDGE super users. Learn about how these users skilfully utilise EDGE within their trust, what some of their achievements are working within their clinical teams, and what their hopes are for the future of clinical research. Grab a coffee and enjoy!

If you would like to see your trust represented, please email K.Brackstone@soton.ac.uk


Head of Clinical Trials Pharmacy, University Hospitals Southampton, UK.

EDGE user since 2002. Contact: Joanna.Cantle@uhs.nhs.uk. To view a PDF version of this article, please click here.

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How and why did you move into clinical research?

I moved into clinical research from a district general hospital in Poole to a large teaching hospital. I applied for the R&D lead for the pharmacy at University Hospitals Trust, as it sounded like an exciting challenge. I had no real idea about research or what the job would entail as it was a new post. I took a leap of faith and have stayed in research ever since, as it is an ever evolving environment which underpins the clinical standards used across the UK and internationally.

What does your role as Head of Clinical Trials in Pharmacy, UHS, entail on a daily basis?

Well, I can honestly say that no two days are the same! I am Head of the Clinical Trials pharmacy, which is a dedicated team of 20+ members of staff, ranging from pharmacists, technicians, administrators and dispensers. My responsibilities are to ensure that the team delivers an exceptional service to our patients and research community.

My day can consist of meeting with sponsors for feasibility/site selection visits, liaison with research teams/PI for specific studies, strategic development of the team, budget management, costing clinical trials for commercial and non- commercial sponsors, liaison with our CTU on site for new protocol development, plus the usual HR load from having a team of 20+ staff.

I am also a member of the National Clinical Trials Pharmacy Advisory Group, which leads on developing clinical trials as a profession. From that, I am one of the pharmacy representatives on the NIHR Industry costing group, which has many remits including the National Costing Template.

How do you utilise EDGE in your daily role?

We are very busy developing EDGE workflows for all pharmacy related activity currently. We have used EDGE to give our greenlight process for several years. However, we want to expand this to encompass the whole process from protocol receipt to study close down.

How can using EDGE help pharmacy departments?

Pharmacy are an important cog within the massive research machine, and we sometimes get overlooked as just a support department. However, any research that is classified as a CTIMP should have some degree of pharmacy support to ensure that the medicine involved in the study is managed in accordance with GCP.

All research active organisations should ensure that there is a robust process for ensuring that IMPs are managed appropriately as required by the MHRA. EDGE can be a useful tool in ensuring that support departments such as pharmacy are informed of a new potential study that requires pharmacy support.

Built in processes within EDGE can ensure that SOPs and workflows are correctly followed ensuring patient safety and compliance with regulatory requirements.

Which aspects of using EDGE in the pharmacy department provides the most pleasure and satisfaction?

Probably the most satisfying aspect of EDGE is seeing a long list of green ticks against a specific study showing that you have done everything you should have done!

The quickest way for new users to become an expert using EDGE?

I would recommend that you actually just sit and play with EDGE to see what it can do for you and your teams. Every NHS pharmacy department works in a slightly different way. However, the fundamental requirements are the same for every NHS organisation. You just need to plug your key activities into a workflow after process mapping how you work and what you do! Easy!

One hope for the future of EDGE and pharmacy:

I would love to see electronic accountability logs realised. Cut down on the amounts of bits of paper flapping around in folders!

One thing that you love most about our job, and why:

My job is ever evolving – I’m not sure if it’s the area I work in or just me but it is nowhere near the same job that it was 16 years ago!

Describe one of the greatest achievements of your research team:

My greatest achievement has been my team. When I came into post 16 years ago, there was just me and 0.5 WTE technician post to support clinical trials. Over the years, I have developed the service, the team, and a reputation across the UK which I am very proud of achieving.

One great thing that you think clinical research has achieved, and why:

That’s like asking to choose your favourite child … Pharmacy supports so much amazing research that really benefits patients across all specialities.

How would you increase and enhance opportunities for patients to participate in clinical trials in the future?

The social media platforms seem to have a strangle hold on reaching out to society, so I would imagine that this trend will embed within healthcare even further.

The best life advice that you have ever received:

Only buy something that you absolutely love or absolutely need. We all have too much ‘stuff’ in our lives.

Your favourite place to go on summer holiday, and why:

We like to travel as often as possible as we have just invested in a beautiful motorhome, ‘Daisy Duke’ as she is called. We will be off to France this summer in her.

And finally, one piece of EDGE functionality that resembles your personality:

You haven’t developed the ‘know it all’ button yet… have you?


Attend Joanna's workshop: "Using EDGE from a Pharmacy point of view" in Bristol on 18 September 2018. Click here to find out more information about the workshop, or email edgecomms@soton.ac.uk if you have any queries. 

Cathy Foreman (May 2018)

Project Support Officer at CRN West Midlands, UK. 

EDGE user since 2008. Contact: cathy.foreman@nihr.ac.uk 

Cathy Foreman, CRN West Midlands

How and why did you move into clinical research?

Honestly, I didn’t plan to! I had been made redundant from a FTSE 100 recruitment company after 18 years, so worked in various temping jobs to see what else the world offered. I applied for a part-time PA/Network Administrator position in Medicines for Children Research Network (MCRN) and ‘blew them away’ at interview. The rest is history, really.

What does your role as Project Support Officer at NIHR CRN in West Midlands entail on a daily basis?

Variety! It does depend on what projects I’m involved in and supporting as well as what arrives in my inbox during the day.  One minute I can be setting up new Improvement Projects, answering questions or training users on Network systems (EDGE and the Google Hub platform), the next I can be negotiating venue prices for events and updating our databases and website. I don’t have what is classed as a normal day but it’s varied and great. I’m never bored!

How do you utilise EDGE in your everyday practices?

As I have a Network user role I utilise EDGE in a different way to other users. I am one of our Local Administrators and dip in and out regularly to request involvement and approve requests to our projects, assisting with users queries and of course, ringing my friends in the fab EDGE team. ;)

Which area(s) of EDGE do you feel most expert on, and why? 

Hopefully all of it as I train users! 

One personal habit or trick in EDGE that some people might not know about: 

I share all my hints and tips as widely as I can, so nothing to add here.

The quickest way to become an expert using EDGE: 

Use it! Ask others how they use it and why, be a sponge. You get out of it what you put into it, add different fields to your reports to manipulate information.

One thing that you love most about your job: 

There isn’t one thing as I love all of it. It helps when you have a good team to work with.

Describe one of the greatest achievements at your network:

Rolling out EDGE to all of our trusts and having staff trained within a year!

One great thing that you think clinical research has achieved: 

Discovering new treatments/medicines that help patients to live a better quality of life. Working towards prevention of cancer, dementia and improving patients’ quality of life.

One hope for the future management of clinical trials: 

To have an ‘opt out’ rather than ‘opt in’, so every member of the public has the chance to take part in a research study to help improve treatment and save lives.

Do you enjoy cooking? If so, what is your favourite thing to cook? 

I make mean Chocolate Brownies and Lemon Drizzle Cakes.

Tell us something about you that most people don’t know: 

I have a tattoo on my coccyx - symbol of a Chinese Dragon as I was born in the year of the Dragon (Yorkshire lass and a dragon - no comments ha ha) and I’m a qualified Reiki Master/Teacher.

And finally, and most perhaps crucially, one piece of EDGE functionality that resembles your personality:

Reporting, as you can vary what and how much you get out of it!


Ethics Secretary at the Clinical Trials Department, JCC Hamilton Health Sciences, Canada. 

EDGE user since 2011. Contact: ehill@hhsc.caTo view a PDF version of this article, please click here.


What does your role as Ethics Secretary in the Hamilton Clinical Trials Department entail on a daily basis? 

It involves the typing of research ethics board (REB) submissions and tracking submissions and approvals in EDGE. I also communicate with study coordinators, principle investigators, the REB, monitors, and auditors. I file regulatory documents both in EDGE and in paper regulatory binders. Really, I do anything relating to ethics regulatory work.

How do you utilise EDGE in your everyday practices? 

All REB submission information and related documents are entered in EDGE daily. Workflows are used to track the submission process and approvals. Attributes are used to track annual renewals and basic REB information. EDGE is also a great reference tool (e.g., annual information and monitor visits are posted in the global calendar), and a great ‘prepping tool’ for any audits/monitor visits. It is particularly useful when you need to find something out about the study (i.e., who the PI or study coordinator is, and when the study began, etc.)

Which personal skills do you feel are enhanced by the deployment and familiarity of EDGE? 

Management of workload (i.e., being able to track number of current studies and submissions) after exploring what EDGE has to offer, including utilization skills.

How do you effectively utilise the global diary in EDGE? 

Whilst I do not personally enter data in this area of EDGE, I do check it often in case the information pertains to me (i.e., monitor or audit visits for my studies).

Which aspects of EDGE have provided the most pleasure and satisfaction? 

Knowing that there is a safe place to keep track of all work being done, and easy access to my work. As EDGE is very versatile, user friendly, and a time-saver, it has a variety of workable features, and more features can be added to capture all sorts of information and data points.

Describe one of the greatest achievements of the research team at your hospital: 

Being one of the largest and highest recruiting cancer clinical trials departments in Canada with quite a number of studies, and working well as a team.

One great thing that you think clinical research has achieved: 

Working in cancer, clinical trials have helped numbers of patients live longer because of treatments received, as there are medications being discovered every day to help prolong their lives, and possibly rid them of their disease.

One challenge that you think clinical research faces in Canada: 

Financial issues as studies can be expensive. Many organizations often carry out fundraisers to support new research.

One delightful thing about living in Canada:

Good healthcare benefits (OHIP).

One clinical research superpower that you wish you possessed, and why: 

The ability to cure people suffering from cancer and rid the disease by making phenomenal discoveries!

One thing that inspires you, and why: 

Learning from older people. They are extremely wise and have helped me to make important decisions in the past.

One of the first things that you do when you arrive in the office every morning:

Try to greet staff with a “good morning!” and sign in.

One way in which EDGE resembles your personality: 



JCC Hamilton Health Sciences were awarded International Organisation of the Year at the ASPIRE EDGE Conference in Birmingham on February 28th 2018. Congratulations! Click here for more information about the conference and to view the breakout presentation summaries, including Bianca Bier's (Hamilton Health Sciences) breakout talk about how they bring their clinical and non-clinical EDGE users together.

david osler (march 2018)

Head of Knowledge at EDGE/Clinical Informatics Research Unit, University Hospital Southampton, since March 2012.

Contact: D.P.Osler@soton.ac.uk. To view a PDF version of this article, please click here.


What does your role as Head of Knowledge in the CIRU entail on a daily basis?

I spend a lot of time working with the regions that I support on EDGE, ensuring that the host and partner organisations have everything they need. I spend time reading up on data security and data protection and applying this to the EDGE services because we host patient identifiable data, and therefore security is paramount. I also sit on the University of Southampton GDPR research working group. A lot of my job also involves strategy and organisational skills. I think about what functionality people want from EDGE and balance this demand with our resources. I need to consider the long-term view of where we want to take EDGE in the future, and how we are going to get there. These are quite big questions and there isn’t always a right answer. Research changes quickly as well, so when I think I have found the answer, something usually comes along that requires me to rethink it all!

One thing that you love most about your job: 

The people I work with, both in our team and all of our subscribers. We have a really good team at EDGE. Everyone gets on really well and we manage to work hard, but also have fun at the same time. There are a real mix of personalities but they blend really well together. Our subscribers are amazing, too. We have built up some really close relationships with people over the years and everyone we meet is happy to engage with us and have conversations about utilising EDGE to improve research. There is a lot of innovation going on with EDGE, and that often comes from the people using it on a day-to-day basis. I think that says a lot about the mind-set of people in research, who are always wanting to improve and make things better. At the EDGE conference this year, we heard Derek Stewart, Associate Director for Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement at the NIHR CRN, talk about how all of this hard work ultimately improves clinical research for the benefit of the patient.

In general, which personal skills do you feel are enhanced by the deployment and familiarity of EDGE?

I think implementing EDGE offers a number of opportunities for Lead Administrators across hospitals. Usually, the Lead Administrators are based in R&D, and unlike old systems that work in silos, EDGE requires the engagement of everyone in research. So being in charge of its rollout means going and having interesting conversations to understand how other people work, and how they would fit into the system. Implementing EDGE also means learning about change management, data protection, project management, lean processing, data analysis, and a number of other skills that can all be developed and enhanced. Implementing EDGE also allows you to be creative. It allows you to dream up new ways of working together that have never been achieved before and to go and see if that dream is possible. I think to have the opportunity to do that in any workplace is amazing.

Describe one great thing that you think EDGE has achieved so far:

There are many great things that EDGE has achieved (I would say that though, wouldn’t I). But perhaps the greatest thing is the collaboration that is taking place both within hospitals and also across a network, across multiple networks, across the UK, and now across Canada. Using a single system has brought people together in a way that hasn’t happened before, not because it wasn’t possible, but because a common platform was not there. Now that there is a catalyst and relationships have now been created, the conversations have moved into the sharing of ideas and best practice across research in general, not just what is on EDGE.

One hope for the future of EDGE: 

My hope is for a single research management system across the UK that benefits all research staff in all hospitals and provides real-time data to everyone involved. If this were to ever happen, this research platform would be an incredible opportunity to attract the best and most cutting edge research to the UK for the benefit of the patients who are desperate for access to the latest medicines and technologies.

One thing that you wish more people knew about EDGE: 

That we are not a commercial company. We are a University department dedicated to improving clinical research by using technology to make research as efficient as possible, as effective as possible, and as accessible as possible.

One thing that always makes you laugh: 

The quiz at our conference each year. Every year I try and make it good, yet it always seems to fall apart. It’s not my strong point but people seem to enjoy it still.

One of your greatest achievements so far:

Almost getting eaten by a great white shark.

Favourite cultural destination: 

Cape Town, minus the sharks.

One thing that you are most grateful for in your life: 

Reggie, my half Daschund, half Jack Russell.

And finally (you can’t get out of this one, I’m afraid, Dave), one piece of EDGE functionality that resembles your personality: 

Delegation logs. They break the status quo and are trying to do things in a way that nobody has before.

Davina hewitt (february 2018)

Urology Research Sister at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire, UK. 

EDGE user since April 2016. Contact: davina.hewitt@uhcw.nhs.uk  To view a PDF version of this article, please click here.


Why did you move into the clinical research field? 

I have always been interested in finding out why we do things the way we do, whether it is a specific treatment, patient pathway, or investigation/surgical procedure. My curiosity fuelled my need to know more, and clinical research has allowed me to learn and increase my knowledge of best practice and the future of disease management for patients.

What does your role as a Urology Research Sister entail on a day-to-day basis? 

My day-to-day role is a mixture of screening clinic and theatre lists to identify suitable participants for my clinical trials. It also involves managing data input, site file management and data queries, managing and running a research clinic each week, sample handling and storage, overseeing onsite monitor visits, conducting feasibility for new upcoming studies, as well as follow-up visits for ongoing trials.

What do you find fulfilling about working with patients? 

I really love the relationship that is built between the patient and nurse. I know each of my patients individually and I treat them as I would like a member of my own family to be treated. I am always honest and believe this is a key aspect of why I have such good relationship with my patients. It is really satisfying to know you have helped a patient or their carer/family in some way or another, be it small or large.

How do you utilise EDGE in your everyday practices? 

I use EDGE to document that I have recruited a patient into a trial. I input the information onto EDGE the same day that I, or my PI, has consented the patient. I also use EDGE to check my recruitment figures and targets regularly to help me keep on track.

What personal skills do you feel have been enhanced by the deployment and familiarity of EDGE? 

EDGE has enhanced my organisational skills, IT skills, and communication skills through its usage, as my core team of colleagues can see my activity in terms of recruitment per month. It gives me focus and structure to see how my activity is, has been, and what is still to be achieved. I have made it a part of my recruitment routine so it is no extra effort to input the details. I like that it is all in one place.

Which aspects of EDGE have provided the most pleasure and satisfaction? 

I find it satisfying that the trial data is on one database. I enjoy using EDGE as a whole, but understand that I still have not yet used it to its fullest capability. I would love to in the future.

One thing that you love most about your job: 

Making a difference.

One of your greatest personal achievements so far: 

Having my two children. Professionally, it would be starting my post-graduate degree study.

One thing that makes you laugh: 

Sneezing… I don’t know why it makes me laugh, but it always does!

One thing that inspires you: 

Learning… It is a continual curve and process that provides everyone with an opportunity to find out and explore something new.

One great thing that you think clinical research has achieved: 

Finding out the reason behind why miscarriages occur, i.e., NK Trial.

One clinical superpower that you wish you possessed, and why? 

To recruit all patients into clinical research trials to give them hope, and to encourage the future of research in medicine.

One hope for the future of clinical research: 

To find the cure for cancer.

One way in which EDGE resembles your personality: 

Being organised.


Catch Davina’s talk, “How we use EDGE to successfully collaborate between clinical and non-clinical teams” at the ASPIRE EDGE Conference on February 28th. Click here for more information about the conference.

Tracey hole (january 2018)

EDGE Champion & R&D Information Analyst at Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Trust, UK.

EDGE user since 2012. Contact: traceyhole@nhs.net. To view a PDF version of this article, please click here


Why did you move into the clinical research field? 

I started as a support secretary at the RD&E after having relocated to Devon. My role evolved and I became the QA administrator for Oncology.  A vacancy came up in the brand new Research & Development network team and I took a chance on it. I had never been involved in research before and was quite blasé about it, but I wouldn’t leave “research” now. It has really got a grip on me.

What does your role as an information analyst entail on a day-to-day basis? 

I complete the day-to-day reports for the Senior Management Teams, the Trust, the NIHR, and various other organisations, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly. The most important part of my role as I see it is to continue to data cleanse and ensure that our data is as close to perfect as can be.

How do you utilise EDGE in your everyday practices? 

Personally, EDGE is open every minute of every hour whilst I am at work (and sometimes when I’m not!). I was asked to become the EDGE Champion for the Trust and saw it as a challenge. I use EDGE for absolutely everything, from recording monitor visits, to capturing whether studies have been archived, capturing capacity in certain areas, as well as setting up local attributes to remind me which quarter studies have been reported to the NIHR for our PID reporting.

What personal skills do you feel have been enhanced by the deployment and familiarity of EDGE? 

Cross team cover where all team members, from administrators to principal investigators, know where they are on each study. This involves knowing how many recruits are needed and have been recruited, it means that relevant and correct versions of patient related information are available to all, and to top it all off, it is all based on live data.

Which aspects of EDGE have provided the most pleasure? 

EDGE is evolving on a daily basis. I can see where potentially new areas/teams could utilise our information to better their own departments. Seeing the use of EDGE grow across all clinical areas, including the CRF, support departments, and hopefully pharmacy going forward, provides pleasure.

Describe one of the greatest achievements of the research team at your hospital. 

There are too many to just choose one, but if we were just talking about research then it would be having such an inspiring research team, eager to ensure that we use EDGE to the max. In the first year of using the EDGE finance tool, we found that we were much more accurate at recording additional patient costs which made a significant difference then, and has continued to make a difference each subsequent year.

One challenge that you think clinical research faces: 

Finance – say no more.

One great thing that you think clinical research has achieved: 

Putting dementia to the forefront of research – pure and simple. We all grow old and research may be able to help those that have never been able to be helped before.

One hope for the future of clinical research: 

I think it’s the one that everyone wants, and that’s a cure for cancer.

One treasured possession: 

My wedding and engagement ring, both of which belonged to my great grandmother and have been passed down through the years, full of sentimental value and I am proud to be able to wear them in her memory.

One of your greatest achievements: 

Flying to New Zealand. Absolutely terrified of flying and never got out of my seat once during the connecting flights, there or back. I did it though. Admittedly, I had to stay a further 4 weeks in NZ as I just couldn’t face the flight back.

One of your favourite cultural destinations, and why? 

Definitely Great Britain. There are so many places to seek out; beautiful scenery, stunning buildings, heritage and history – you don’t need to go abroad to have diversity in your life.

One piece of EDGE functionality that resembles your personality: 

Attributes – think about them logically and put them in order, everything else will follow!


Catch Tracey's EDGE finance workshop at our 2-day EDGE Conference in February. Click here for more information about the conference.

CAROLYN MALONEy (dECember 2017)

Head of Research Operations at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, UK.

EDGE user since September 2014. Contact: Carolyn.Maloney@uhl-tr.nhs.uk. To view a PDF version of this article, please click here


Why did you move into the clinical research field?

Well, I would like to say it was planned and that it was all part of my career pathway, but it wasn’t. I moved to Essex (for love) in 2003 and landed a job with a Research Ethics Committee as an administrator. I was asked to apply for the position permanently – the rest is history! Prior to that I owned my business in Dorset – I was a florist! Transferrable skills pushed to the max! From Essex Ethics Committee, I moved to manage RM&G for PCTs in Essex, then decided that we needed to be more central so I applied to Leicester and have been here ever since.

One great thing you think clinical research has achieved?
Improved health outcomes for many with a previously bleak prognosis.

How do you utilise EDGE in your everyday practices? 

EDGE is used every day. Documents are uploaded, every decision confirmed, the majority of contacts with research teams noted, made public, and shared!  All support departments’ processes updated. Approvals managed, monitoring visits, and sponsor initiations all managed through the system as well as the sponsor review process.

One personal skill that you feel has been enhanced by the deployment and familiarity of EDGE? 

That’s a difficult one! I have learnt so much about people and how to interact to achieve the maximum benefit and outcome. I guess I’ve learnt about Change Management, but I have also discovered that actually I am not a technophobe after all and actually enjoy ‘building’ the process within the system.

Which aspects of EDGE has provided the most pleasure and satisfaction? 

I still find amazing the amount of interest we have sparked from what we are doing here at Leicester. It is obvious to me how the system can be used – we are just getting on with using it! EDGE was actually a saving grace! It’s actually very personal, but in 2014 ‘we’ as in my family, lost a very dear person and I found that EDGE helped me to cope and deal with my profound grief. I had a project to focus on. It helped tremendously and is probably one of the reasons I am so very passionate about it. I’d not recognised this until quite recently, so it gives me pleasure because in a strange way I ‘remember’ every single day, but satisfaction because what we’ve done is now helping so very many people.  When we demonstrate what we’ve done to people who haven’t seen it before, the excitement and truly enthusiastic questioning fills me with pride for my team, but also with a certain amount of personal warmth and satisfaction! OK yes, it was my vision and I’ve done the bulk of the build, but I couldn’t have done it without the unwavering support of my team (oh, and the boss!)

Describe one of the greatest achievements of the research team at your hospital? 

There are so many - it is impossible to pick just one. As a trust, we have many firsts. But if I talk about my team as a whole, the greatest achievement is the team. The team is cohesive, care deeply about what they do and how they do it. They take pride in their work and enjoy their time doing the job. They’ve embraced EDGE and love it almost as much as I do!                  

How could we enhance communication further between sites, and how would this improve speed and efficiency of clinical research? 

Debunk some of the myths surrounding collaboration. We’re just trying things out at the moment but if more users could see the potential then efficiency would be easily obtained. There is a lot of suspicion and cynicism surrounding the sharing of information and the collaboration aspects which I struggle to understand. Busting through that would be a force for the good.

One thing that inspires you? 

Determination and commitment of individuals, particularly in the face of adversity.

One of your favourite cultural destinations, and why? 

Istanbul – its vibrancy, cultural diversity, food, music, and complexities.

One clinical research superpower that you wish you possessed: 

Ability to provide all the resource needed in every single study.

One hope for the future of clinical research: 

That it will become truly embedded into every NHS organisation.

One piece of EDGE functionality that resembles your personality:

Search. You touch the surface but have no idea of the wonders beneath.