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Portrait of Lucy Paterson and James Van Santen

Introducing Lucy Paterson, Personal Assistant to Director of SITU (Prof. Michael Douek) and James Van Santen, Clinical Trials Administrative Assistant working on the CPinBOSS study.

 We asked Lucy...

How did you come across this role and what particularly interested you about it?

I was planning on relocating to Oxford from Eastbourne and found this role on the University website. I was a PA prior to this and have always been weirdly fascinated/revolted by medicine, healthcare and human biology (my mum’s a nurse – I used to hear a lot of great, disgusting stories over the dinner table, so I guess my interest came from there!) Being a PA in a clinical trials team seemed like an engaging way to pick up a bit more knowledge about all three – plus it’s interesting learning about potential new treatments and how they’re expected to work.

What was your post previously?

I was PA to the Deputy Director of Nursing and Assistant Director of Nursing (Corporate Nursing Team) within East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which was my first PA role. This taught me a lot about organisational skills and diary management – although I am naturally pretty organised anyway. Prior to that I was a ward based Admin Assistant. I suppose they both tie into the above mentioned morbid fascination with medicine and healthcare! Working for the NHS taught me a lot of valuable skills, mainly how to remain level headed when everything’s falling apart around you! Also, when I first started I couldn’t stand wine, but one of my Matron’s warned me that the job would drive me to it. I thought she was joking – she wasn’t…

If you weren’t a Personal Assistant, what would you be?

I’ve always loved history (particularly lifestyle history e.g. fashion, household, social etiquette etc) and I visit a lot of museum exhibitions, so I’d love to be a curator and put together exhibitions myself. If not that, maybe something in set or costume design for historical TV shows/films/stage shows? Being honest, I’m still not entirely sure what I want to do when I grow up, but that’s in the ball park!

What’s the best bit about being a part of the SITU Team?

The people, no doubt about it. You’re all so friendly and funny! And (for the most part) as enthusiastic about good coffee as I am!


 WE ASKED Jamie...


I was actually clearing out the store cupboard of Chingford boxes by SITU when Steffi mentioned that there was this job going within the team. However, I had only 2 days to submit an application for this role so I didn’t have too much time to think about it. To be honest I didn’t know too much about this role at first, but I had a quick meeting with Cushla and the role sounded really interesting. Working on a study involving cerebral palsy especially drew me in, as my partner is a specialist speech and language therapist working with kids with cerebral palsy.   


I was a study coordinator working with the epidemiology team in the Botnar, having previously been a centre administrator for Arthritis Research UK Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis. During this period, I set up a study looking at bone mineral density in athletes and recruited over 300 participants for this study. This experience of administration and study setup has provided a serious amount of experience that I could translate into this role within SITU. Submitting an ethics application through IRAS meant that I knew a lot of the terms and the processes involved in setting up a trial giving me a good head start. Still lots to learn though!  


This is actually quite an easy one for me to answer. I would be a cycle tourer travelling around the world with just my bike and a map. An endless journey taking in the different sights and cultures with only where my next meal is and where I am going to stay that night to worry about. If I had better English skills, I would create blogs to fund my travels from one country to the next or do some internet based job where all I need is a good WIFI connection. However, these trips cost quite a bit of money so this is only a pipe dream…at the moment!


I always say the people make the job. The team has been really welcoming and supportive since I have arrived. It did help that I knew a few people before I joined the team and it has been nice to work alongside all the team members in SITU. The work side of this role has also been really interesting. A lot to learn in a short space of time and always busy juggling priorities. This is what I like in a job and means that I am never doing the same thing over and over again. I feel that I have made the right choice moving to SITU!