Even as an undergraduate student, Sonya Martin felt a passion for research.
“I love research, and I like being involved in discovering new compounds and devices that will improve the health of the population,” says Dr. Martin, MS, DrPH, associate director for site management and monitoring (U.S.) with Merck.
Martin’s commitment to clinical research was fueled by the loss of several family members to forms of cancer. “It made me determined to be part of the solution,” she recalls.
Martin’s rewarding career with various companies has had a steady upward trajectory. She was a clinical research associate (CRA) for nine years and became a CRA manager in 2014, then in 2019 was promoted to a senior manager position overseeing clinical scientists and study managers. In October 2021, she reached her current position when she joined Merck.
For Martin, clinical research is “an ongoing journey to find cures and the best treatments” to improve life and alleviate suffering. She’s also committed to spreading the benefits of clinical research to a wider population.
“We need to address the lack of diversity in the clinical trial patient population and increase [diversity, equity, and inclusion] in the clinical trial workforce,” she says.
Webinar – Merck Journeys: Investing in Talent Within Clinical Research Trials
Join Dr. Martin and colleagues from Merck for this free webinar on October 12. Members of Merck’s Global Clinical Trials Operations team will share their experiences and provide helpful insights and advice during this “fireside chat” session.
The increased presence of underrepresented populations in clinical trials is “important” to producing more effective treatments, Martin says. She wrote her dissertation at Capella University on “Assessing the Behaviors and Beliefs Exhibited by African American Practicing Physicians Toward Clinical Trial Research.”
“While my sampling was small, I found the reasons they aren’t more engaged in clinical trials were varied and not the same obstacles faced by patients,” Martin says. “We need to better understand and address the barriers for not only patients, but for potential clinical trial professionals, especially in the African American community,” she adds, lauding programs at Merck designed to overcome those challenges.
“I’m excited and motivated to be part of the positive changes coming,” Martin says.
Author: Michael Causey