26 October 2023
Over the past few years, Sonia Hancock has played a pivotal role in driving Health Translation Queensland’s (HTQ) Research Passport Agreement, helping to streamline research and governance processes for many researchers across the collaborative network.
HTQ Research Governance Manager Sara Gottliebsen thanked Sonia for her guidance and leadership.
“Sonia has chaired HTQ’s Human Research Ethics and Governance (HREG) Advisory Group for over two and a half years and has been a proactive member for much longer.
“Her incredible collaborative spirit is a true exemplar for HTQ,” Sara said.
“Always striving for utopia in the world of research ethics and governance, Sonia’s input has been invaluable in driving our work program in this area.”
Sonia has seen research ethics and governance from both sides of the fence. Now the Metro South Health Manager of Research Integrity and Compliance, she began her career as an oncology/haematology nurse before using her clinical skills as a research nurse for the Mater Medical Research Institute.
As the role grew and evolved, Sonia honed her HREG knowledge, becoming the Metro South Human Research Ethics Committee coordinator and welcomed the opportunity to apply her skills more widely.
“From experience, I could see that research governance was a significant disabler of research collaboration and the area of most need of change within the Queensland research ecosystem,” Sonia said.
“Clinician researchers’ primary responsibility lies with providing patient care, not spending their time navigating complex contracts, so the more we can do to make their lives easier by improving system efficiencies and removing roadblocks and inter-organisational barriers, the better.”
Sonia’s career highlight has been getting the HTQ Research Passport Agreement up and running and refining it with people committed to sharing their learnings and delivering transformative change.
“I was involved early on, when HTQ was known as Brisbane Diamantina Health Partners, in adapting a Metro South and University of Queensland template to the wider network.
“The hardest part was getting the right people in the room to start conversations about how we could make it happen.
“We have come a long way since then, including developing a third-party collaborative research agreement (for partners working with non-partner organisations), which has since been retired, replaced by the national Multi-Jurisdictional Multi-Party non-Clinical Trial Collaborative Research Agreement.”
HTQ’s HREG Advisory Group brings together research ethics and governance representatives from HTQ’s partners with specialist advisors from partner and non-partner organisations.
Sonia has seen the group evolve and grow over recent years.
“We have always had an open-door policy. Participation is voluntary, and each member brings enthusiasm, camaraderie, willingness to share knowledge and a commitment to the same goal.
“In our work program, we constantly ask, ‘What is the value here?’ or ‘How can we repackage this process or procedure to deliver greater value?’
“One of our sub-committees also became the Research Integrity Advisory Group.”
The group helps to enable peer-to-peer support and nurture ‘research beacons’ in the clinical environment.
In October 2023, Sonia handed over the chair role to Sara Hubbard from the Queensland Regional Clinical Trials Coordinating Centre (QRCCC), Queensland Health. Sonia is confident the group will continue to add value under Sara’s leadership.
“I would like to see the group continue to develop useful tools for researchers, like a data management and storage plan that reduces the risk of data breaches.
“One of our ongoing challenges in HREG is educating the research community about our role – i.e. that we are not the road blockers, but rather that we enable Queensland researchers to deliver high-quality research for the community we all serve,” Sonia said.
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