Spotlight on being a Research Champion

Photo: Research Champion, Elizabeth Welch

Published: 23 May 2020

On Wednesday 20th May, it was International Clinical Trials Day and today, Elizabeth Welch, tells us why she became a Research Champion for Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust.

What is your background and where did your interest in research and development come from?

I was a Financial Director for an international company based in London when life took a change of direction when my husband accepted an advisory post with the European Union (EU) to be based in Poland for two years. After leaving Poland we spent the next eight years living in Russia. Whilst there, on behalf of the EU, I worked with the Kazakhstan Government on the privatization of State Farms. Prior to our departure for Poland, my husband had led a multidisciplinary team looking into the effects on the health of both agricultural workers and animals within intensive farming systems, and that’s where my interest in research grew.

How long have you been a Research Champion for TSDFT?

I became a Research Champion formally known as a Patient Research Ambassador, in September 2019.

How much of your time does being an Ambassador take up?

As it’s a voluntary post, it is up to me how much time I spend promoting research and it varies. I take any and every opportunity that comes my way to raise awareness and engage people in the benefits of research. As I already volunteer at the hospital in my role as a Torbay Hospital Governor and as a Trustee for The Torbay Hospital League of Friends, I find it allows me the contact with the public and patients to promote the fact that ‘today’s treatments was yesterday’s research’.

Which research programmes are you currently involved with?

I am involved in promoting CLIMB which is an online study about how patients think their health data should be used, “who it is shared with and by who and what consent should be given”.

In addition, the PROTECT study which aims to understand how healthy brains age and why people develop dementia. There are currently IBS ‘contact me’ posters all over the hospital.

Of personal interest, I am participating in a national study for medication for hypertension.

Why would you encourage others to become a Research Champion?

I would always, if possible, choose to be treated in a hospital that is actively involved in research. If we don’t have research, we don’t have progress. Patients benefit from better outcomes and hospitals benefit from having volunteers help with their research. By being part of a research active Trust, we are contributing to cutting edge treatments and attracting staff interested in research too.

Dr Fiona Roberts, The R&D Director would like to thank Elizabeth for her continued support and encourage everyone to support research as this will help us prepare and be research ready for when and hopefully the COVID-19 vaccine trials become available.

If you are interested in becoming a research volunteer, please go to the ‘Be Part of Research’ website which has been updated with new content and information relating to COVID-19 research. This includes a helpful frequently asked questions about Covid-19 section.