Life at Avacta: Interview with Carol Greenlees, Head of Clinical Operations

What attracted you to Avacta?

Avacta’s therapeutics division offers a dynamic environment to work in and has a very clear and strong sense of direction that is driven by the ambition to develop novel oncology medicines for the benefit of patients.  As part of the Avacta team, you have a fantastic opportunity to make a significant contribution to how the organisation moves forward to achieve these goals that reflects why many of us work within the field of oncology.

From my very first interactions with the Avacta team, the commitment and passion for what we do from the science through to the clinic was obvious. By joining Avacta, you are joining a high calibre team with a clear focus on improving treatment options for patients.

The pre|CISION™ and Affimer® platforms are exciting new areas of development with the potential to advance treatment options for patients. It is great to be part of a team that is taking these agents from the pre-clinical setting into First in Human Trials and to hopefully see them advance through the clinical development process to reach cancer patients more widely.

What excites you about the technology and platforms at Avacta? 

In the case of the pre|CISION™ platform,  one of the major issues with chemotherapy is toxicity. By utilizing FAP activation as a selective drug delivery mechanism, the pre|CISION™ platform provides the capability to deliver chemotherapies to the tumour microenvironment whilst limiting toxicities in non-target tissues which have typically have been limiting factors in the use of these agents. If successful, the pre|CISION™ platform has the capacity to optimise the utilisation of many chemotherapies and immuno-oncology agents that have been mainstays in cancer treatment but have had their utility restricted by dose limiting toxicities.

The Affimer® technology,  as a potential novel class of biotherapeutics based on the naturally occurring human protein, Stefin A, that may ultimately extend the benefits of cancer immunotherapies to more patients, is an exciting innovation. Being part of such a development program as it ultimately moves towards the clinic and potentially brings  significant benefit to patients is highly motivating.

What does your particular role at Avacta involve?

As Head of Clinical Operations, I have the responsibility for the planning, initiation and delivery of Avacta’s early phase clinical trials working in close collaboration with the many functional areas including Translational Science, CMC, Medical and Regulatory which are integral to the successful conduct of a clinical study, ensuring we are gathering the necessary data to the appropriate regulatory and quality standards for investigational products.

From a day to day perspective, not only do I have many interactions with our internal teams but also with Clinical Investigators and hospital staff to ensure that Avacta are providing them with the necessary support as they and their patients navigate through our clinical trials. This may involve addressing protocol related questions, ensuring Good Clinical Practice compliance and providing updates generally on the progress of the study to ensure the continual engagement of the hospital site staff.

To facilitate the delivery of our trials, I have responsibility for the selection and management of Contract Research Organizations that may provide expertise to supplement our in-house capabilities.  In addition to the study specific activities, a core component of the role is ensuring that we have the necessary standard operating processes in place to underpinning trial delivery with the highest quality standards.