Bonnie is Vice President of Segal Trials, a network of research sites in south Florida and Charleston, SC that has been in business for 20 years. The site network specializes in research in the areas of psychology, neurology, addiction, and women’s health. Bonnie is active in the community as an advocate for mental health awareness. As a wife and a mother, she is also passionate about food and travel, especially to the mountains or the beach.
How did you get involved with Greater Gift?
The first time I heard about Greater Gift was when I was collaborating with Jennifer Byrne, Founder of Greater Gift, at the 2017 CNS Summit advocacy panel. During that panel preparation we got to know each other and she told me about Greater Gift.
I completely understood the mission and saw the vision that a program like Greater Gift would be able to provide to the entire United States in terms of raising clinical trial awareness by reducing the stigma that is associated with clinical research. I thought the whole concept and mechanics of Greater Gift, with them taking care of the actual donations and having the relationship with Gavi doing all the leg work, was fantastic. It was very easy to see Greater Gift becoming the conduit to show our community what participation in a clinical trial can potentially mean, while supporting children in underdeveloped countries.
How does Greater Gift support Segal Trials?
We promote Greater Gift by having informational flyers around our office. In addition, we also use Greater Gift’s message within our social media messaging and as part of our website. That representation enables us to show the people we partner with – like the different pharmaceutical companies and our volunteers – that we have a greater mission than just advancing medicine. Not only are we advancing medicine, we are giving back to our community, and thanking the volunteers who participate in trials by donating a vaccine to a child in an underdeveloped country. It becomes more meaningful to the clinical trial volunteer and within the social media messaging. One of our goals is that we share our vision that clinical research sites are socially responsible and we do give back to the community.
What are some reactions from patients and staff when receiving a Greater Gift certificate?
We have gotten two very clear messages from patients and our staff members.
The reaction from the recipients of a Greater Gift certificate has been very rewarding. Patients have been pretty much shocked about this relationship and the fact that a clinical research site subscribes to being so invested in their community, not only in the advancement of medicine but also in the advancement of global health. The fact that because of their participation a child was helped in an underdeveloped country gives them great satisfaction.
For our staff members, we are always looking for additional ways we can have our staff more engaged in what we do and cultivate more connectivity since we have a network of clinical trial sites. Bonding and engaging is extremely important to us. Another one of our missions is to really make everyone at Segal Trials feel like they are a part of something bigger. We always try to hit that message home. That we’re not just here to just do accounting, or marketing, but what you are also doing is advancing medicine. By working with Greater Gift, it gives everyone the opportunity to feel a great sense of pride, morale and bonding while knowing they are a part of a company that believes in something more than just doing their work and more than just advancing medicine but advancing global health.
How can we improve the experience of people in clinical trials?
I think there is a lot of room in certain therapeutic areas to improve the perception of clinical trials. I’ve been in clinical research for 20 years so I have heard a lot of public perceptions relative to research, especially in mental health. The fact that a site can have a relationship with a group like Greater Gift, I believe, will show the community that research sites do more than just follow a particular protocol or fulfill their mission of advancing medical research.
What is your hope for clinical trials?
I would say the number one thing I would hope for in the world of clinical trials is greater awareness and greater education. I wish that all advocacy groups would be supportive of research. I wish that there was a greater understanding of what clinical research means to patient volunteers, future generations, their family members, and what it means to volunteer in a study.
Describe clinical trials in three words.
Cure. Advancement. Cutting-edge.