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08 March 2019

#WomenOfKings - Leanne Gardner

Celebrating and elevating King’s women for International Women's Day.


It's International Women's Day on Friday 8 March – a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year's theme is Balance for Better, which calls for a more gender-balanced society. From the board room to the government, media coverage to employment, gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive.

To celebrate International Women's Day, we spoke to women from the Faculty of Life Science & Medicine King's about their careers, inspirations and what drives them.

"I am bridging the gap between scientists and patients and improving treatment and outcomes for these and future patients"

Dr Leanna Gardner is the Senior Clinical Trial Manager at of the OuTSMART and PAVE Trials in the School of Immunology & Microbial Sciences.

What are you proudest of in your career? 

Since obtaining my PhD in Immunology in 2004 from Monash University, Australia, I am very proud of how I have continued to develop my career in science whilst balancing work commitments with family-life. I have also had the opportunity to work, travel and live overseas during this time. After completing my PhD, I had the opportunity to work as a post-doctoral scientist at both Imperial College London and at Monash University. In 2010, I transitioned into the management of clinical trials beginning as an Assistant Trial Manager at UCL.  I started at King’s in 2013 as a Clinical Trial Manager running the OuTSMART renal transplantation clinical trial in the MRC Centre for Transplantation. Since then, I have been promoted within the Department of Inflammation Biology, at King’s, to Senior Clinical Trial Manager. I now run two large UK multi-centre renal clinical trials, whilst managing junior staff. I am also studying a Master’s in Clinical Trials whilst working to deepen my knowledge in the field.

Why did you decide to go into this field of study/research/work? What would you tell women who want to study in your field?

I decided to go into the field of Immunology when I was 15 years old sitting in a Biology class at a secondary school in a small town in rural Australia. I was drawing pictures of viruses evading the immune response and was completely fascinated. This interest in the immune system drove me to study immunology at university and start a career in medical research. During this time, I realised that I also was interested in “bench to bedside” clinical research. I believe that by working in clinical trials, I am bridging the gap between scientists and patients and improving treatment and outcomes for these and future patients. I enjoy my work and would recommend this career path to women because a work-life balance is achievable.   

Who or what made you want to work in this field? How has your field changed since you started, and where do you see it going in the future?

Clinical trial management is essential for the successful completion of trials. When I first started in this field there were no specific courses available in the area. I had worked on research projects involving clinical trials and enjoyed interacting with clinicians, nurses and patients, and hence I believed managing clinical trials was a natural career progression for me. I learnt how to manage trials during my first position as an assistant trial manager. Since this time, several UK universities have begun offering Postgraduate Certificates and Master’s Programmes in Clinical Trials. I believe these courses will drive increased knowledge in the area and clinical trial management will become a more recognised and popular career path in the future.