Staff profile: Bernard Siu

Bernard Siu is Lead Research Nurse in Urology Unit at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

Support from the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at The Royal Marsden and The Institute of Cancer Research, London has helped him to stay abreast of new research and learn about trials that may benefit prostate and bladder cancer patients.

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What does your role involve?

As Lead Research Nurse I oversee the whole research portfolio within the unit and work with oncologists to make sure that trials can run appropriately and safely, challenges are considered, and patient safety remains the number one priority. In addition to organising the administrative side of trials, the team and I also speak to patients about trial options, manage specimen coordination and act as key workers for patients during trials, which can include administering treatments.

I also regularly meet with clinical research organisations, pharmaceutical representatives, medical liaison officers and account managers to discuss new drugs on the market and whether there are any potential trials suited to our research portfolio. Being part of a small team means my role is quite diverse - I really enjoy the mix between research responsibilities and working in clinic with patients.

What does the research portfolio in the Urology Unit include?

Our research portfolio covers the entire journey of prostate and bladder cancer, from diagnosis to treatment and relapse. Trials range from chemotherapy to targeted treatment to radiotherapy and some are observational while others are diagnostic. Each trial is different and it’s great to have such a diverse range in our portfolio as it keeps the work exciting.

Is there any research you are particularly proud to have contributed to?

It’s really satisfying when trials are successful and I’m particularly proud to have contributed to the logistics of a vaccine study for metastatic prostate cancer. We recruited the most patients in the United Kingdom, which was a huge achievement, but it also meant the logistics of the trial were quite challenging. The trial involved giving patients immunotherapy every month to recognise cancer cells and treat them alongside standard therapy. Blood samples were then sent abroad to develop a potential vaccine. Due to the sheer number of patients receiving treatments in different hospitals we had to ensure we worked efficiently with pharmacy and outpatient teams to ensure treatments were being defrosted and administered in a timely manner. I loved working with the team to solve the logistics for the study and developing a rapport with all the patients we were administering treatment to. 

How has the BRC supported your work?

The BRC provided support for me to be able to attend the Global Congress on Prostate and Bladder Cancer in Paris. The four-day event brought together world experts in prostate and bladder cancer and provided a useful insight into how we can translate new research into practice.

At the conference I learned about the new research and innovative trials and drugs that could be relevant for our portfolio at The Royal Marsden. I was able to network with trial sponsors and discuss how their trials could benefit prostate and bladder cancer patients, and it also gave me the chance to make contacts for future research opportunities. Keeping abreast of new advancements in bladder and prostate cancer ensures we can offer our patients opportunities that may benefit them and/or future patients.

In addition to my professional development opportunities, Prostate Cancer is one of the BRC themes, therefore our unit is fortunate to have financial support in terms of salary. Some of the prostate cancer research that has taken place in the unit has also been supported by BRC grants, which our unit is very grateful for.