Darren Jolliffe

Biometrics Director & Consultant Statistican – S-cubed Biometrics Ltd

Starting a career as a medical statistician

I came into medical research straight from Southampton University, where I studied for a BSc in Single honours Mathematics. As I had an interest in statistics, I decided to stay on for another year and complete an MSc in Medical Statistics. As part of the MSc I attended career talks, and one that interested me was working as a statistician within the Pharmaceutical industry. One of my MSc modules was clinical trials, and both these aspects lead me to apply for such a role. October of that same year I then started my first statistician job in Oxford.

Joining S-cubed

I joined S-cubed Biometrics in March 2012. Prior to working here, I have always been employed as a statistician and have worked for both pharmaceutical companies and CROs. As I have progressed through my career, I have taken on higher levels of responsibility and supervisory roles. In terms of pharmaceutical companies, I have worked for British Biotech, Wyeth Research, and LEO Pharma; and I subsequently worked for CRO’s: Health Decisions, Aptiv Solutions (formerly SRA Global Clinical Development), and then finally to my current company S-cubed Biometrics.

It is hugely rewarding to know that I am part of the process that helps develop and deliver new medicines to the population. Although my involvement is only a small part of this process, as a statistician I help by directly inputting into the appropriate design of relevant clinical trials; with my statistical grounding and experience, I can expertly inspect the collected patient data to assess if new medicines are safe and effective.

In terms of my favourite part of my job, I thoroughly enjoy supporting clients, being part of their clinical project teams, to provide statistical support and advice where it is needed. It is very exciting to be involved at the start of a trial (study design) and then also be there at the end of a trial to inspect the data and report on trial outcomes.

Working within a CRO type of environment, emphasis and focus of the majority of my time must be on the client(s) that I support, in delivering high quality work as and when it is required. When you’re busy, trying to maintain your knowledge and personal development can be a real challenge. However, I put aside the development time to keep up to date with latest statistical/clinical trial development/applications so can I continue to be the best I can be in performing a statistical role.

Advancing Important Research

In terms of a project I most enjoyed working on, I spent 8 years providing statistical consultancy support to a Norwegian client working within HIV research.  I acted as their “company” statistician providing statistical support on all of their clinical development activities. I supported the design and reporting of 3 phase II trials, with activities ranging from sample sizing, protocol and SAP writing, organising and chairing data review meetings, managing the analysis and reporting of their clinical data, clinical study report review, contributing to research publications and also performing numerous SAS programming ad-hoc statistical analysis tasks as and when required.

The reason I enjoyed this work the most was because it allowed me to provide support to and be part of the clinical team, helping advance their research, and being included within conversations, discussions and decision making on an ongoing basis.

I’ve also performed this role numerous times for other clients and within pharma companies, but this is the one I remember enjoying the most, given the length of time on the team, and the extent and range of work I performed.

If you’re thinking about coming into clinical research, my advice would be to apply for roles that you have been trained for, learn and reflect on all the on-the-job tasks that you perform, and always strive to develop and improve yourself. In any job it is always good to be respectful and friendly to all your work colleagues/customers you support.

Work Life Balance

Outside of work, as well as spending time with my family, I also enjoy taking part in triathlons. I completed my first triathlon in 2014 and have regularly been taking part ever since. The last 2 years I have entered European/World age-group qualifier events, finishing nowhere near the “qualifiers” but it’s good to see how much improvement can still be made. Plus, it is very exciting to be involved in such races. I take part in the “Sprint” distance events (750m Swim, 20 km Cycle, 5 km Run).

Five words to describe me: organised, detailed, enthusiastic, prepared, knowledgeable.

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