Celebrating women in research: Getting to know Dr Emma Pond

In honour of the International Day for Women and Girls in Science, we’ve been chatting to our Senior Trials Coordinator Dr Emma Pond about her role and the fantastic work she does for SKC. Emma’s role within the Children’s Cancer Trials Unit, based at the University of Birmingham, is funded by Solving Kids’ Cancer UK and includes a range of duties in looking after the neuroblastoma-focused clinical trials that take place there. From writing the paperwork needed to open trials, to meeting with hospital staff about work which is underway, she manages the progression of many neuroblastoma trials at every stage.  

Emma was first drawn to work in clinical trials whilst studying for her PhD, where she was able to run her own trial based in dermatology. ‘This study helped me realise a career in clinical trials was for me’, she recalls, ‘the impact on patient care and helping trials open for patients are things that drive me’. Prior to her role with SKC, Dr Pond has worked within the NHS on breast cancer trials and in children’s cancer trials for leukaemia and brain cancer amongst others. Her experience in these various studies make her a great fit to work now in the field of neuroblastoma, where research can become very complex.

Currently Emma is working on several neuroblastoma trials in the unit. Some are closed with the focus now on handling the data and others are in the early stages of exchanging ideas for potential new studies. Her main focus right now is pushing forward trials that are ready to go, such as the VERITAS trial which opened at the Royal Marsden in January 2021. This work aims to help patients whose disease is stable but does not respond well to initial chemotherapy. Emma is also working on the UK opening of the SIOPEN High-Risk Neuroblastoma Clinical Trial 2, which was funded by Solving Kids’ Cancer and Neuroblastoma UK last year. This study will give patients, who are newly diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma, access to more treatment pathways with the potential to improve their chances of survival and will hopefully open in 2021. 

Funding Emma’s role in the Cancer Research UK Clinical Trial Unit, which is the first of its kind dedicated to a single childhood cancer, allows more focus on neuroblastoma-specific trials. When asked about the impact that this has, she said, ‘it has allowed for increased capacity to set up trials in neuroblastoma and good relationship building with the important stakeholders within the field. The fantastic work that Dr Pond does is crucial to increasing the pace of neuroblastoma research to find new therapies. We are dedicated to creating opportunities like this, with the help of our supporters, to fight for a future where no child dies of neuroblastoma or suffers due its treatment.