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Roya Ziaie

Roya Ziaie is Policy Adviser at The Institute of Cancer Research, working to give us a voice on policy issues related to our work, and influence policy development in high-priority areas.

Talk us through your typical day

One of my favourite things about working in policy is the variety of projects – both in the office and out.

Roya Ziaie - Policy Adviser

If I'm at my desk, I am often liaising with our researchers to get their expert opinion on important topics for the ICR. This can be anything from research funding and immigration to radiotherapy and cancer genetics.

We then build relationships with politicians and other policy makers to proactively communicate the ICR's views to the Government and bodies like NICE and the NHS.

We also often work in partnership with other charities and institutions like Cancer Research UK and The Royal Society – to generate a stronger voice across the community.

If I'm away from my desk, I could be anywhere from The London Cancer Hub site in Sutton to the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. Over the past year, we have hosted a whole range of policy makers at The London Cancer Hub to showcase the sheer potential of the site, help us find the right partners to collaborate with and help improve local transport options in Sutton.

This can be both fun and frustrating, as MPs' schedules are jam-packed and change quickly – which means I am often making a lot of last minute changes. I also recently had the opportunity to attend a meeting with the European Commission in Brussels, where I was aiming to help persuade the European Medicines Agency to change the guidance on the EU Paediatric Regulation to make it easier to run cancer trials in children.

How does your work contribute to our mission?

In the Policy and Engagement team, we help the ICR to achieve its long-term goals – by encouraging a policy environment that supports our researchers to make the discoveries that defeat cancer. 

I think the majority of the work I do would particularly support pillar four of the research strategy – making it count – by making sure that our advances are embedded into healthcare and benefit patients.

We also play an important role in building the reputation of ICR scientists, either through the media or within Parliament, as thought-leaders in their fields. This is important to support our fundraising activities, and also fulfils the ICR's responsibility to communicate to the public about our research.

What big projects are you working on?

One aspect of my job is getting to communicate the ICR's world-leading science and organisational successes to a wider-audience; right now I'm beginning to compile the long list for our annual scientific and organisational achievements.

This is a really fun project for me, as I can sink my teeth into a multitude of science papers, and learn about what various projects Corporate Services have been championing throughout the year.

It's a really nice way for me to get an idea of how people within the ICR work together to make it so successful, and highlights the importance of every team – research and corporate – in doing this. The project perfectly brings together the 'One ICR' ethos!  

More policy focused, I've been working with some of our researchers to solidify the ICR's position on radiotherapy research; highlighting specific issues, outlining what we would like to see in the future and recommending practical solutions.

Position statements like these are really handy to brief policy makers who are working on this area also, so I've been able to feed in our key messages to politicians such as the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Radiotherapy – a group of cross party MPs all committed to improving radiotherapy services across the UK.

Off the back of this, the group recently invited us to give more information to a committee in the Houses of Parliament – a sure sign that they are taking notice of our work.  

Can you give us any examples of where you see the ICR's values in your work?

Definitely! I couldn't do my job alone, we rely on colleagues around the ICR and external partners to provide expertise and different perspectives to many important policy issues. Collaboration and 'working together' are crucial parts of being effective in policy.

I also think that we are making a difference to the lives of people with cancer by showcasing the ICR's successes to key policy makers and politicians, and lobbying for change when we see areas that could be improved for the sake of research and patient benefit.

Read our ICR values

What makes you want to work for the ICR?

Looking past the Communications Directorate's never ending biscuit tin… everyone I've encountered so far whilst working here clearly believes in the ICR's mission, and is passionate about helping to implement it. I find the work extremely rewarding, and I really enjoy seeing research quite literally going from bench to bedside. 

Not just that, but the opportunities I've had in the short time I've been here for both professional and personal development are vast. A personal example – not long ago I took part in the ICR's collaboration with Mixed Race Faces, an incredible project that showcases the lives and identities of people of mixed-race backgrounds.

It turned out to be a really introspective exercise, and a cool opportunity to meet some people within the ICR that I would never have had the chance to meet otherwise.

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