Researcher Interview

Tiffany Stewart sat at her desk

March 2021: Tiffany Stewart, works on the MND-SMART trial in Dundee and took some time out of her day to tell us about her experiences of the trial.  

Q: Tell us about who you are and your role in MND-SMART. 

A: Hello! - My name is Tiffany Stewart and I am a clinical studies officer for the NHS Research Scotland Neuroprogressive and Dementia Network in Tayside.  I am a psychology graduate with an MSc by research in Clinical Brain Sciences, and I am also currently completing an MSc in Health Psychology. I coordinate the MND SMART trial in Tayside.

Q: When did NHS Tayside join the MND-SMART trial?

A: NHS Tayside became involved back in 2019. We joined the launch in December in Edinburgh which was very exciting and inspiring! We had hoped to start recruitment early 2020, but unfortunately COVID had other ideas! However, we did manage to get started later in the year and recruited our first participant in August 2020!

Q: What has been the reaction from people with MND to the trial?

A: Everyone has been very positive so far and are very grateful for our efforts in getting the trial started here! It is great for Tayside patients to have this opportunity so close to home!

Q; What have you found most enjoyable about being part of the trial team so far?

A: I think meeting these wonderful and inspiring patients and their families is the best part of being involved in this trial. Also forming close working relationships with the MND team in Tayside and the support we get from them and also the trial management team in Edinburgh. It's nice to feel part of this larger family!

Q: What have you found most difficult?

A: It has been a steep learning curve for us as a network! We have experience in Dementia and Parkinson's research previously and had anticipated what it might be like to work with MND patients, but had not anticipated how different each patient might be and how unique each person's needs are.  There have been some difficulties to overcome but it has in most cases been enjoyable and a great experience.

Q: What advice would you give to any researcher or clinician who are new to the trial?

A: Get to know the team and don't be afraid to ask for support!  Everyone in the Edinburgh trial management team has been so helpful and happy to share best practices!

Q: Any hopes for the trial going forward?

A: I would really like to see the trial be a success! MND is such a cruel disease and I would love to see some positive findings from the trial. 

MND SMART is such an exciting trial to be part of and working with the incredible patients/carers and clinical teams has been a real joy over the past year!

This article was published on: Thursday, 25 March, 2021