Meet Munaza Jamil: A passionate educator and career motivator for clinical research professionals
Applied clinical research is experiencing tremendous growth in Canada. This field of healthcare focuses on using scientific methods and evidence to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and care of patients. Following best practices, researchers design, conduct and analyze clinical trials to test the safety, effectiveness and costs of new or existing interventions.
If Applied Clinical Research is in your future, be sure to check out programs and courses taught by experienced Clinical Research Professionals who can teach you the core competencies a career in this field requires.
Meet Munaza Jamil, one of McMaster Continuing Education’s instructors, who can help you discover the many career and business opportunities available to students in the Applied Clinical Research program.
Munaza is a certified Clinical Research Professional with over 20 years of experience in clinical research, mostly in the academic healthcare environment. She has managed studies across multiple therapeutic areas, such as Oncology, Cardiovascular Surgery, and Endocrinology, and has experience with all phases of clinical trials. Munaza has also developed course content for several postgraduate clinical research programs in Canada.
What led you to become an instructor with McMaster Continuing Education?
My passion for education and strong motivation to shape professional development for clinical research professionals is what led me to teaching. I enjoy mentoring students and contributing to their successful career trajectories.
How would you describe your style of teaching?
I strive to create a culture of learning within the virtual classroom, where students are encouraged to take risks in the discussion, feel confident starting conversations, and therefore drive their instruction. Instead of using a traditional lecture-style format, my philosophy is to engage students in a two-way dialogue. I believe students learn through interactive discussion and conversation with the educator, and that is what I aim to achieve in my virtual classroom.
What will students learn from you in the Applied Clinical Research program?
Students will learn Good Clinical Practice principles and the legal, regulatory and ethical issues surrounding clinical research. They will understand how to manage study sites, and how to demonstrate leadership and strong communication when working with multiple stakeholders within the clinical trials team.
Who do you think can benefit most from this program?
Anyone who has a background in the life or health sciences and is either new to the world of clinical research, or perhaps has obtained some training, even in other jurisdictions or countries.
What are some of the newer trends in clinical research that excite you?
One of the concepts most under review right now is that of clinical trial quality.
The definition of quality is shifting away from having everything “spotless and perfect” to an organizational culture of quality.
What do you see as the future of clinical trials?
With the aging population in Canada, new challenges are arising as seniors will require increased medical research to help them stay healthy and improve their quality of life.
The future will include decentralized clinical trials, a new version of “audit readiness”, as well as more diversity and inclusivity in clinical trials, both in the workforce and participants.
Fortunately, Canada is invested in clinical research – The Government of Canada invested $250 million through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to create the Clinical Trials Fund as part of a $2.2 billion investment in Canada’s Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy.1
What are the key skills needed for a successful career in applied clinical research?
I would say a strong understanding of scientific and research concepts, awareness of regulatory guidelines, and knowledge of safety and ethics when conducting research in humans. Soft skills are also required; interpersonal skills, teamwork, time management, organization and empathy are all needed to successfully conduct clinical trials.
What advice would you offer to students or someone considering a career in applied clinical research?
If you are already a student, I recommend that you don’t overlook the potential value of volunteer work in your field. Pursue volunteer opportunities in clinical research environments (such as hospitals, clinics, or internships with industry partners), so you can add to your real-world experience, apply the skills you learn in the classroom, and build your professional network.
If you are considering a career in the clinical research field, I recommend you research different aspects of the profession. Clinical research is quite varied in terms of roles, responsibilities and associated pay scales. Job titles and salaries can vary a lot. Industry work tends to pay more, but the culture and workload are very different from academic healthcare settings. It would be helpful to talk to a clinical research professional who is already in the field and learn from their experiences to find your ideal fit.
What do you think your students would be most surprised to learn about you?
I love travelling and, ever since the pandemic, have been catching up on my bucket list of destinations. I also enjoy learning languages, and even know a little bit of Russian.
Munaza Jamil has a background in Life Sciences, with a BSc in Microbiology & Immunology from Dalhousie University. She is an active member of the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP) and chairs the N2 Clinical Trials Education and Awareness Committee. She also works with the Joint Task Force for Clinical Trials Competency at the MRCT Center of Brigham & Women’s and Harvard, which has defined the core competency framework for clinical research professionals globally. At McMaster Continuing Education, Munaza teaches Principles of Clinical Research, Clinical Trial Design and Clinical Trial Management.
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