Studying Clinical Trials online - Li's story

Li, from China and living in the UK, is a Clinical Trials by Distance Learning student. He tells us how the programme has helped his career in pharmaceutical science and gives advice for anyone considering studying an online MSc.
Li Zhao

Please explain a bit about your academic/professional background 

I am originally from China and living in the UK now. I am a material scientist by training and got my PhD degree in Biomedical Materials, focusing on developing novel polymeric drug delivery systems. I have been working in pharmaceutical science since I graduated.

In my spare time, I like playing different sports such as football, basketball and swimming. I also like travelling around and exploring the world. So far, I have been to around 20 countries.

Why did you choose to study your course with LSHTM?

I developed an interest in clinical trials as I wanted to know more about what happens to the drugs I developed in the lab during the trial phase and how they can help the participants in the trials.

I chose to study the MSc Clinical Trial programme with LSHTM because of the excellent global reputation of both the school and the programme. LSHTM is a world leading academic institution in clinical trials and has attracted students from all over the world.

I first heard about the programme from a close friend of mine, who works at a leading CRO. After carefully looking into the programme details on the school’s website, I was pretty sure that this is the one I was looking for.

In particular, the programme provides a variety of different modules that cover all the necessary aspects of clinical trials, empowering the students to take on any roles in the field. Students can also choose to study a few elective modules from other programmes (e.g. Public Health, Epidemiology), which further broadens students’ skillsets. 

What advice would you give to a student about to begin their studies?

Doing an MSc programme while working full-time can be a very challenging journey over the next 2-3 years of your life. So, I would recommend any students about to start their study to be mentally prepared for this journey. Make sure that you balance your study, work and home life so that your other responsibilities will not backfire.

It will require you to put a lot of time and energy into the study. However, do always remember that there are people who are always ready to help you through your journey. Do not hesitate to contact the programme directors, module leaders and tutors, as well as the programme support team whenever you face difficulties.

I get to know a lot of fellow students from a diverse background and from all over the world. It has been a fantastic opportunity for me to learn different skills and mindsets from them.

What have you enjoyed most about your course?

There are many things that I have enjoyed in this programme.

First of all, the modules in the programme cover all of the important aspects of clinical trials. There are four core modules in first year, which lay a good foundation for students who do not have much prior experiences. The structure and content of the programme suits me perfectly.

Besides, the programme directors, tutors, the study team and programme support team are all incredibly supportive. I can always post my questions on the Moodle forum, which are quickly resolved by the programme directors and tutors in a couple of hours. Similarly, it never takes more than a few hours for the programme support team to help me out with any administrative issues.

Last but not least, I get to know a lot of fellow students from a diverse background and from all over the world. It has been a fantastic opportunity for me to learn different skills and mindsets from them.

How has the programme helped you in your career? 

I have gained a much better insight into the different aspects of clinical trials, which has helped me in my work as well. I can now confidently design animal studies for my products prior to human clinical studies. I can also discuss with sponsors and other stakeholders about the design and execution of human clinical studies too, which helped me gain huge trust from them.  

I will definitely use the knowledge and skills gained from this programme more frequently in my future work. I have a long-term passion for health policy, and I believe that a clinical trial background is an important skillset for a health policy maker.

What advice would you give to someone considering studying your course?

I was a bit nervous at the beginning of my study, but once I adapted, I have been enjoying my study along the way. The quality of the education is brilliant. Just make sure that you can manage your home life and study.

I would strongly recommend anyone who is considering studying the MSc Clinical Trials programme to actually apply for it. You will be provided with well refined study materials and educational resources in clinical trials by renowned experts, and you will also be surrounded by excellent peers who have the same passion as yours.

After graduation, you will become one of the alumni of the LSHTM community, which include many leaders in healthcare on the world stage. 

Interested in studying by distance learning?

Find out more about our distance learning programmes or speak to Li to find out more about his experience.