14 Sep Team Spotlight: Cassandra Leopard
Cassandra Leopard is the Regulatory Supervisor for the Clinical Trials Institute.
PLEASE SHARE A BIT ABOUT YOUR PROFESSIONAL JOURNEY. HOW DID YOU ARRIVE AT YOUR CURRENT POSITION?
I landed a job as a research assistant fresh out of college at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) for a neurology stroke research group in Portland, OR. I learned so much about clinical research there and was a member of the on-call stroke team. I was promoted 3 different times there, eventually becoming the Center Manager. I came to UW as a regulatory coordinator for the Department of Surgery in 2009. I joined the Clinical Trials Institute (CTI) in 2012 and have now been at UW for 14 years. This week is my first week as Regulatory Supervisor for CTI!
WHAT MOTIVATIONS FUELED YOUR CAREER PATH?
The motivations that have fueled my career path is a genuine excitement and interest in the discovery of new medicines, devices, and treatments. I have seen over the years how clinical research can make a real difference and impact lives in a positive way.
WHAT ARE SOME PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT TOOLS OR RESOURCES THAT YOU WOULD RECOMMEND TO OTHERS IN YOUR POSITION/FIELD?
I would recommend becoming certified in your field, if possible. I achieved SOCRA certification as a Certified Clinical Research Professional last year. Preparing for the test and passing it has given me confidence and the continuing education required helps me stay on top of current best practices in clinical research.
HOW IS SUCCESS DEFINED IN YOUR FIELD?
Success is defined as submitting and completing the regulatory submissions for clinical research studies in a timely manner, so that recruitment and enrollment can begin on time and according to the plan for the study. The regulatory application has to accurately reflect the protocol and procedures occurring at UW, and has to be updated throughout the life of the study.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR ROLE?
What I like most about my role is the dynamic role that I play within the clinical research team at UW. I enjoy being able to gather the needs of various members of the research team and focus on patient-centered research that may change lives by submitting accurate and timely regulatory submissions.
WHAT ARE SOME CHALLENGES YOU FACE IN YOUR ROLE?
One of the biggest challenges I face in this role is not getting the answers to questions that are required for regulatory submissions. This requires me to dig deeper and maybe ask questions in a different way. It can be challenging, but the reward is great.
HAVE ANY MENTORS IMPACTED YOUR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT? HOW DID YOU DEVELOP THESE RELATIONSHIPS?
I have had some amazing mentors over the years that have really expanded my horizons and helped me develop new skills and competencies. I hope I can be as influential to others as they were to me.
WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU HAD KNOWN WHEN YUOU STARTED YOUR CAREER PATH?
Don’t let mistakes discourage you. When mistakes happen, don’t push them aside, but try to look at them with curiosity, openness, and as an opportunity to learn and grow.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR SOMEONE PURSUING A SIMILAR CAREER PATH TODAY?
Clinical research regulation is a great career path with many different areas you can focus on. My advice is to work hard, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and be kind. It will pay off.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT WORKING WITHIN UW’S CLINICAL RESEARCH COMMUNITY?
UW’s clinical research community is large, vibrant and constantly growing and changing. At CTI, we get the opportunity to be in the center of it, and that is a real privilege. One of my favorite parts of working in this community is collaborating with many different multidisciplinary teams.