Aihua Zhang: Growing up with TGI

Ms Aihua Zhang is a Project Manager (PM) for the Hospital Care research program at The George Institute, China (TGI China), managing two large scale clinical trials, I-CARE study and CPACS-3 study. She joined TGI China in 2014. She has worked diligently to ensure both studies operate smoothly. In particular, she suggested a bonus plan for the study nurses and data collectors in I-CARE study. The plan effectively enhanced the motivation of the study staff, improved work quality and increase the number of recruited patients. Recently, she is awarded the GIRP prize, TGI Recognition program for non-academic staff, for her outstanding contribution.

How long have you been working at The George Institute?

It has been almost 2 years since I joined TGI China in July 2014.

What attracted you to working at The George Institute?

It was a great opportunity for me to join TGI China. Before I joined the institute, my work has focused on cardiovascular disease. I heard of the institute and the leading cardiovascular expert working at the institute. I appreciated its quality work and advanced management style, hence I came to the institute and was impressed by its excellent academic atmosphere and its operational flexibility. I feel lucky to get the opportunity to work here.  

What are you currently working on?

I am responsible for project management work for two studies, CPACS-3 study and I-CARE study. CPACS-3 study is going to be completed soon. I-CARE study started from 2014, and is expected to complete in 2018. My work is to make sure that participating hospitals follow study protocols and SOPs, ensuring studies’ efficient operations.

What difference will this make to healthcare and why?

My work is to lead the study team and to ensure the quality of research. There are many academic and commercial researches in China. However, according to the recent CFDA report, the quality of researches is uneven. Study results are crucial for both academic and commercial studies. Effective management to ensure study operation is the goal of each management personnel. Though there is limited power in individuals, the pursuit of scientific research and high-quality management must influence more management personnel, and to improve the research quality, which is of great value for the health industry. Our quality research will eventually have a positive impact on health system, and bring wellness to patients.

What is your professional background?

I received a five-year Bachelor Degree of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine. People who have similar education background to me usually work at hospitals.

Why do you enjoy working at The George Institute?

I very much enjoy the work environment at TGI China. We have many flexibilities, which allow us actively organize our time table, and ensure efficiency.

I appreciate the management style, which allows staff to voice our ideas. Staff are able to develop their ability of problem-solving. Because we are encouraged to think more, to actively find out the problem and address it. 

TGI China provided great capacity building opportunities for us. There is a training on Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) held fortnightly for PMs to learn and discuss about SOP together. Besides, there are other capacity building activities held regularly, which are very helpful.

To explain to people what I do I say….

Usually, I will proudly introduce that I conduct process management in clinical researches to transform our ideas into action, and generate results. Researchers need to implement researches to test their ideas. I am in charge of the implementation, which means that my work has a great impact on the validity of the study.

To unwind at the end of the day I….

Check whether the items on my list are completed or not; review ad hoc assignments to ensure everything progress smoothly. I also talk with my team members to see the problems they have, how they address the problems, and the results.  

My first job was….

My first job was about population health management. It was conducted at community health service centers in Beijing, to provide diet and exercise interventions for patients with high lipids, high blood glucose, and high blood pressure, to improve their health. The work was at community level, involving close interactions with patients. I got the chance to understand patients’ demands and high-risk patients’ lifestyle. My first work was a good start for my future development.

My biggest achievement so far….

My biggest achievement is my ability of leading my team and managing projects independently. When I first came to TGI China, I was not that decisive in making decisions. Under the guidance of the study PI, I learned to take on my responsibilities and being more decisive when addressing issues relevant to my position. I am able to coordinate a working plan for a project on the whole and also address detailed implementation work.