Sarah MacDonald - New Director of Research, Myeloma UK

This month Myeloma UK welcomed Sarah McDonald as our new Director of Research. In her new role, Sarah will be responsible for both the patient advocacy and research teams. She will play a key role in advancing our patient advocacy work and health services, translational, and clinical research programmes to strengthen the impact of Myeloma UK within the blood cancer research community.

Sarah joins us from Sarcoma UK where she was the Director of Research and Policy. During her time at Sarcoma UK, she led the clinical, lab-based and genomic research programmes setting up new research projects including a ten year PhD programme to grow much needed research capacity in sarcoma. She also oversaw the expansion of the suite of patient focussed information, and the setup and growth of the Support Line, a telephone and email support service for patients and carers. Sarah also developed the Policy and Public Affairs function in the charity.

Sarah is passionate about involving patients in research and investing in research which improves both patient outcome and quality of life. At Sarcoma UK she started a programme asking supporters to engage with meaningful research and championed access to patient data so her team could better understand the experience of patients living with a rare cancer.

We asked Sarah how she feels about her new role:

What attracted you to Myeloma UK?

Having spent the last 25 years working in cancer, I have seen the positive impact that effective research can have on patients and families, and the strong patient focus that Myeloma UK champions really resonated with me.
The organisation has done so much for patients across not only across treatment access and the development of new treatments but also the outstanding support services that they provide to anyone affected by a diagnosis of myeloma.
I can’t wait to get started and build on this excellent work.

What excites you about your new role?

Myeloma UK research is at the forefront of myeloma research and has been championing innovative projects like the development of a patient registry, launching the first clinical trial using molecular stratification, and incorporation of patient data in technology appraisals.
Although there has been a lot of progress in understanding and treating myeloma and related conditions there are still a lot of questions to answer.
So, I am looking forward to getting involved in the many different types of research Myeloma UK is funding and supporting. The research programme has a multifaceted approach to improve the treatment and care of myeloma patients and family members. It starts at cellular level looking at myeloma genetics, includes investigations at a disease level through the generation of real-world data and development of innovative clinical trial designs, and incorporates research at a patient level researching patient experiences and preferences.

What role do you think healthcare professionals and researchers play in supporting you in your role?

Having a strong, collaborative relationship with healthcare professionals and researchers is key to delivering impactful results which improve the standard of care. They are at the forefront of myeloma patient care so experience breakthroughs and challenges and propose solutions every day. I see building these relationships with healthcare professionals, researchers, policymakers and industry professionals as a fundamental part of my role.