Aryn Knight, CCRP
Texas Heart Institute
On May 20, the world will honor clinical research professionals in an annual celebration of Clinical Trials Day (CTD). This internationally recognized event raises awareness of clinical trials and the many career opportunities in this wonderfully rewarding field, and it is our honor to kick off the 2022 celebration. In keeping with tradition, we’ve invited SOCRA members to nominate each other for their outstanding work and contributions to public health, medical advancement, and improved health outcomes.
In this article, we’re sharing the insights and perspectives of Aryn Knight, Administrative Director for the Center for Clinical Research at Texas Heart Institute. We are recognizing Aryn for her positive contributions to clinical research education and advocacy.
Meet a SOCRA 2022 Clinical Trials Day nominee
Aryn Knight, BS, CCRP, has more than 20 years of direct experience in clinical research in academia and hospital environments. Her specialty areas include cardiology, pediatrics, gastroenterology, neonatal ICU, psychiatry, psychology, and neurology. Blending her love of law and science, Aryn’s focus on clinical research compliance and regulations has positioned her as a subject matter expert, elevating her contributions to the field.
Aryn brought her compliance expertise to her professional role as Administrative Director at the Center for Clinical Research at Texas Heart Institute in Houston, TX, leveraging her skills to restructure the organization’s clinical research system. She also serves as the Chairwoman of the Texas Medical Center Clinical Research and Training Committee.
An active SOCRA member since 2007, Aryn serves as the SOCRA Houston/Galveston Chapter Chair, in addition to serving on the SOCRA Board of Directors, Certification Content Writing Committee, Certification Governance Committee, and Job Task Analysis Committee.
“Clinical Trials Day is a relatively new recognition day for our industry. It’s fantastic that we’re receiving this acknowledgment that’s so vitally important for the future of the clinical research profession.”– Aryn Knight
Passion with purpose
Looking back on how her career began, Aryn noted that many seasoned clinical research professionals like her stumbled into the industry by chance. However, many choose to remain in the profession, dedicating their careers to it.
“Like many others, I just fell into clinical research,” Aryn said. “I really loved reading and interpreting clinical trial regulations – it appealed to my talents and interests.”
Yet, there’s an even larger motivation fueling Aryn’s long-term passion for clinical research: its power to change lives.
“It’s very satisfying to do this work. We’re improving the quality of people’s lives by helping to make cutting-edge advancements available to those who need them.”-Aryn Knight
The role of education and networking in advancing the profession
Aryn reflected on her experience in clinical research when she started in the industry two decades ago.
“People used to look at clinical research as a steppingstone to nursing or medical school – not necessarily as a viable career. I thank SOCRA for its contribution to changing and evolving the profession into a respected and rewarding path.”
Aryn’s was nominated for Clinical Trials Day by Maria Ines Nunez who recognized her as a positive force for clinical research education because of the crucial support she provides for current and aspiring professionals. Aryn said, “There weren’t many opportunities for us to learn, connect, and support each other when I entered the industry, so, I made education my mission when I came to Houston – I knew that is what I wanted to focus on.”
Beyond supporting education opportunities to help clinical research professionals learn and grow, Aryn believes that advancing the industry depends on networking. Social media platforms like Facebook groups and LinkedIn have helped Aryn connect with others.
“I am very active on social media, answering questions and sharing insights so that I can be a resource for others. It’s my privilege to share knowledge and advice to help fellow professionals succeed and pave the way for the future.”– Aryn Knight
Ways to celebrate Clinical Trials Day This Year
We asked Aryn how she plans to celebrate Clinical Trials Day this year and she shared a few simple ideas that can spread much-needed awareness about the clinical research industry and community, including:
- Post on social media using the #CTD2022 hashtag
- Thank SOCRA members and other people in the profession (Nominate someone here)
- Connect in-person by decorating the office or having a party
Looking for more celebration ideas? Read last year’s blog highlighting Clinical Trials Day, for additional inspiration for making a splash on May 20.
“While Clinical Trials Day is not overly recognizable yet, it will be,” Aryn forecasted. “A lot of people have an interest in clinical research because of the mainstream coverage of the COVID-19 vaccine trials. We now have a spotlight on us, and it’s our time to demonstrate what our industry is all about.”
Aryn’s advice for new and aspiring clinical researchers professionals
When we asked for Aryn’s advice for new and aspiring clinical research professionals, she shared two critical perspectives:
- Seek a mentor in the field.
Aryn divulged the first secret that helped her succeed: a mentor. “When I came into the industry, I struggled. I had to ask millions of questions and forge my own path until I found my mentor, one of most intelligent people I’ve ever known. She helped me tremendously, and even though she’s retired now, we still keep in touch.”
Aryn noted that mentors could also help aspiring clinical researchers get their feet in the door. She recommends looking for volunteers willing to help provide valuable hands-on experience. Virtual meetings and free educational sessions can also be helpful.
2. Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom.
Aryn also recommends keeping an open mind about taking an entry-level position. “Clinical research is a bottom-up field, where you have to work your way up the ladder, but every rung you climb will bring you closer to a rewarding career.”
Aryn was honored and humbled by her SOCRA Clinical Trials Day nomination. “I do everything I do for SOCRA because I love its mission. Clinical research would have very little recognition If it weren’t for them. So, it makes me truly happy to support SOCRA and its members.”
In her parting words, Aryn summed up her thoughts on the clinical research industry and Clinical Trials Day, saying that clinical research professionals are essential in helping pharmaceuticals and devices get to market. “We are the backbone of the industry, and all clinical research professionals deserve kudos this Clinical Trials Day – and every day.”