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CRN Greater Manchester's International Women’s Day celebration attracts a full house

Date: 14 March 2019

Clinical Research Network Greater Manchester (CRN GM) hosted a packed event to mark International Women’s Day.

There was standing room only as an audience of almost 60 people attended the gathering, titled “Celebrating Women in Clinical Research”, at CRN GM’s headquarters in Citylabs on Friday 8 March 2019.

The event was organised to toast the wealth of instrumental women leading and contributing to research at all levels in our region.

Debbie Vinsun, CRN GM Chief Operating Officer, introduces the event


A selection of these women kindly agreed to speak – to share their career stories, describe the obstacles they have overcome, and reinforce the core messages promoted by the International Women’s Day movement.

The audience included peers from various partner organisations, as well as CRN GM Patient Research Ambassadors, core team family members and children.

There were opportunities for networking and to learn more about CRN GM’s ongoing projects, while attendees were also encouraged to name their own personal “Wonder Woman” and pose for a selfie to add to the online #IWD2019 conversation.

Gillian Southgate, R&D North West Director of Collaboration and Communication, spoke about the inspiration behind R&D North West’s Wonder Women film series


Feedback has been extremely positive and plans are already under way to host another event next year.

The speakers were:  

  • Sarah Fallon, CRN GM Deputy Chief Operating Officer: Sarah introduced the event and was joined by her daughter Isabella, who charted her mum’s previous jobs and explained why she makes her proud.
  • Gillian Southgate, R&D North West Director of Collaboration and Communication: Gillian spoke about the inspiration behind R&D North West’s Wonder Women series, and played the episode featuring Dr Helen Hurst, Consultant Nurse at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust.
  • Monika Cien, Clinical Trials Manager, Royal Manchester Eye Hospital: Monika spoke about her journey from her native Poland, and how she overcame the language barrier to become a Clinical Trials Manager and Chief Investigator of her own study.
  • Dr Manju Luckson, CRN GM Assistant Delivery Manager: Manju spoke about her beginnings in her native country of India, her journey to Manchester, and how she came to work in a senior research role.
  • Dr Ed Johnstone, Consultant Obstetrician, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust: Ed, our sole male speaker, spoke about how it is important for men to realise the different challenges faced by women in research, and indeed, workplaces in general.


Toni Johnson (Practice Manager) and Dr Abigail Gallagher from the Bodey Medical Centre in Fallowfield


Dace Dimza-Jones, CRN GM Industry Facilitator, had the initial idea to host the event for IWD, which is a public holiday in her homeland of Latvia.

She said: “At CRN GM I am surrounded by many strong, inspirational and empowering women, each possessing amazing strength, empathy and passion.

“I look up to and learn from them, and hope that one day I, like them, will become an inspiration for other young women.

“I gained the idea to organise the event by observing the women from across our research community. They all come from different backgrounds, they have rich culture, strong faith and beliefs, they are daughters, mums and wives, and they all work together to make Greater Manchester a place to be for ground-breaking research to make patients’ lives better.

“These women are devoted to their patients and the wider research community. Our women in research are equipped with bravery and kindness that allows them to aim high and have no limitations to their success.

“I look forward to organising the event next year, hopefully, on a much larger scale to enable even more women to share their stories. I would like to thank everyone who attended the Women in Research celebration event this year and look forward to seeing all of you in a year’s time.”

Around 60 people attended CRN GM's International Women's Day celebration 

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    Clinical Research Network Greater Manchester (CRN GM) hosted a packed event to mark International Women’s Day.
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