Paul Lavender is a Principal Investigator (PI) at King’s College London. A PI is the head of a clinical trial. As a PI, Paul designs research projects, writes the protocol (a set of instructions explaining how a trial is run) and manages the day-to-day running of a clinical trial.
PIs work on clinical trials with Research Nurses, Research Associates and Research Technicians to ensure that a trial runs smoothly. The PI will look over the data as it comes in, and will write the final reports at the end of the study.
Paul is a doctor and a scientist who specialises in understanding genetic defects that can contribute to asthma. In a typical day, he and his team will take samples of patients’ blood, isolate the cells that relate to asthma, and grow more of them in culture. Then they will test asthma medicines on these cells, and isolate parts of the cells to examine what changes the medicines have caused.
Not all of Paul’s time is spent on research. He spends a lot of time reading the latest research journals to keep up with new information in his field. As Paul is a PI at a University, he also teaches medical and postdoctoral students.
Before he became a PI, Paul earned a first degree in biology and a PhD in endocrinology (the study of how hormones affect the body). He did two further postdoctoral research placements, studying molecular biology and working on cancer research, before he came to his post at King’s.
Paul says that the best part of his job is, “interacting with a lot of people who are excited by the science, and I think whenever you are doing experiments, the fun part is seeing data that no one has ever got. So that’s finding out new things.”