September 28, 2018

Meet Executive Director, Cancer Clinical Trials and Regulatory Affairs (CCTRA) – Sandy Annis, B.A., CCRP

Sandy AnnisHow long have you worked at UAMS?

I have been at UAMS for 17 years. The majority of that time has been spent in the Cancer Clinical Trials Office in various positions.

How long have you been in your current position?

I have been the Director of the Cancer Clinical Trials Office for about 6 years and was promoted to Executive Director about 2 years ago.

What is your favorite part of the job?

I love so much about my job that it’s hard to narrow down what I love the most. I love interacting with people and dealing with complex regulations, but most importantly, I love what we provide our patients and investigators. We don’t make advancements in patient care without research. It’s the patients and investigators that keep me moving forward.

Are there any challenges?

It is really hard to describe how challenging this job can be. I can’t make people happy all the time. It’s hard to be the rule enforcer sometimes, but it’s part of what we do and I have to do it. The key is to make sure that you do it professionally. Another big challenge in this job is getting through all the red tape quickly for patients when they need a clinical trial. It can be hard to describe the many steps and length of time it takes to open cancer-related clinical trials. We try to make sure that we do everything we can to ensure that things are moving forward as quickly as possible.

How do you/your group handle problematic issues?

We handle problematic issues through communication and problem solving. Effective communication is key to everything, but it is most important in problematic situations. We have to tailor our communications to the person, the study and the situation. It’s a constantly moving target. Our goal is to address problems head-on and as quickly as possible. Sometimes it may take a team of us to solve the problem, but we will get there as quickly as possible. I am lucky – I have the best group of problem solvers!

How many protocols/projects do you work on annually?

The number of protocols/trials varies significantly, but for the last few years we have seen an increase in the number of trials that have come our way. We currently have approximately 175 cancer related clinical trials in our office. On average, we submit 1-2 new protocols per month and have a hard time keeping up with demand.

How about after hours? What do you do for fun?

Annis_and_husband_hikingI love to hang out with my family. I’ve been married for 26 years and have an 18 year old daughter who is about to start her second year in college. When she’s home, we like to spend time with her. She has a very busy schedule now, but she pops in when she needs her laundry done. My husband and I have been enjoying the empty nest by traveling a lot more than we had in the past. It’s been a lot of fun.

We also took the opportunity to purchase a fishing boat and enjoy fishing together on the weekends. Once I caught my first fish, I was hooked! I’m still learning, but I’m getting pretty good at it. If possible, I would be on the water every single weekend. Unfortunately, chores get in the way of doing that.

Most people know I’m an avid college football fan. Once college football season is on, I’m focused on it. To be honest, I can be pretty obsessed with all kinds of sports. I watch it all!

What personal skill or hobby don’t most people know about you?

I love party planning when I have time. I love to cook and decorate. Although I rarely have time to do this anymore, it’s fun to put it all together. I have a closet in my house that is designated, “party stuff” and includes all the different things I use. When someone needs a platter of a certain kind – they call me!