Health and medical research strategy with Professor Moira Clay

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Ever thought about asking a member of Parliament how to become Prime Minister? Moira Clay, a leading research strategist, asked that very question, and she's now cultivated a career helping leaders in health and medical research make an impact in both research and the community. Join us as we speak with Moira about her journey in medical research, and developing a holistic and comprehensive approach to cancer treatment.

About Professor Moira Clay

Professor Moira Clay is one of Australia’s foremost experts in research strategy. She is a transformational leader and a highly experienced facilitator, with an extensive knowledge of the changing research agenda. She has a reputation for professionalism and integrity and is known for her collaborative and inclusive approach. Moira has extensive senior executive experience in research institutes in Victoria, NSW and WA - including 6 months as Acting Director of the Telethon Kids Institute. She was President of two peak bodies – the Australian Society for Medical Research (2003) and Australasian Research Management Society (ARMS) (2013), leading significant public, political and scientific advocacy initiatives. In 2018, she was nominated as a Fellow of ARMS, acknowledging her enduring and substantial contributions to research management, and her active philanthropic involvement was profiled in a TEDx Fremantle talk. In 2011, she completed the Eureka Institute International Certificate in Translational Medicine. She is currently the Chair of the Advisory Board of the Menzies Institute.

Moira founded Moira Clay Consulting in 2013, propelled by her drive to help Australian health and medical research leaders achieve transformative health benefits for the community. MCC has built a strong reputation for adding value to health and medical research organisations (including medical research institute’s; hospitals, funding bodies; universities; peak bodies and major initiatives) across Australia.

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  • [00:00:45] Moira's beginnings in biochemistry.
  • [00:01:51] Developing the foundations for the work Moira does now during her PhD.
  • [00:03:21] Exploring the world through postdoctoral research.
  • [00:04:17] Moira's career crisis that led her to think bigger.
  • [00:05:40] How does one become Prime Minister?
  • [00:08:32] We ultimately want to make things better.
  • [00:10:28] Co-design, and how medical research strategy can make an impact.
  • [00:16:49] A stretched workforce needs greater collaboration.
  • [00:19:29] The shift to cancer research.
  • [00:22:25] Starting a consultancy.
  • [00:23:23] The Pirate Ship Foundation.
  • [00:24:16] West Australian Comprehensive Cancer Centre: The need for comprehensive cancer care.
  • [00:30:45] Honeybee Venom Research by Dr Pilar Blancafort and Dr Ciara Duffy.
  • [00:32:09] West Australian Comprehensive Cancer Centre.
  • [00:33:56] Exercise for reduction of cancer risk and treatment efficacy.
  • [00:38:18] What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore?
Michele Ong

Ever thought about asking a member of Parliament how to become Prime Minister? Moira Clay, a leading research strategist, asked that very question, and she's now cultivated a career helping leaders in health and medical research make an impact in both research and the community.

Join us as we speak with Moira about her journey in medical research, and developing a holistic and comprehensive approach to cancer treatment.

I'm Michele Ong and this is STEAM Powered.

Good morning Moira, thank you so much for joining me today on STEAM Powered. I'm really looking forward to speaking with you about your journey.

Moira Clay

Thanks Michele. It's great to be here.

Moira's beginnings in biochemistry.

Michele Ong

Amazing. Well you're currently in the area of health and medical research strategy, and you know, you've been involved with cancer research as well. But I'd like to rewind a little bit because your path to this space began with biochemistry, and I would love to know a little bit more about what drew you to that space.

Moira Clay

That's, it's a very good question. It was quite some time ago, but I guess when I, when I was at school, I was actually really good at maths, but I didn't love maths. I kind of pursued it a little bit, and, but I, but I was really intrigued by science. I found science, just that pursuit of knowledge, it was fascinating.

And uh, the really big thing for me was biology. You know, how the human body worked and how, you know, this wondrous thing we are, we can do so much, and what happens with that? So, I decided to go down the path of biochemistry and I loved it. I found my happy place, uh, in doing that.

Developing the foundations for the work Moira does now during her PhD.

Moira Clay

And after I finished my degree, I thought, well, I might as well go on and do a PhD. It wasn't, something that I'd actively thought about, but it just seemed like doing more and progressing down the same path and it felt right to do it.

And so I went to Melbourne and I did my PhD on cholesterol metabolism, and I found that fantastic. And sometimes it was hard. Sometimes my supervisor was trying to make me do things that I didn't wanna wanna do, but essentially I'm so grateful to him because he really, he really fostered an awareness of doing good research and doing research with integrity and just really, really being focused on that and learning how to collaborate with people and work with people.

I remember the day he came in and he said, you might wanna talk to the people around you who are actually really experienced in that. Get some help. And, and, you know, it really set me up for my career. Just not only the science that I did, but the way I did it. And that that was, it is something I, I will be eternally grateful to my supervisor even though I, you know, he made me, he made me do things like stand up in front of an audience and talking and sharing my data and actually doing work.

So--

Michele Ong

So funny that, the stuff you do now.

Exploring the world through postdoctoral research.

Moira Clay

I know. Pretty much, pretty much. So, yes, that, that was my journey in, in biochemistry and after I did my studies, I decided to follow the path, which was kind of what people did, and that was to go overseas, and do a postdoctoral fellowship. So I did my fellow, I went to Cincinnati, Ohio. I did my postdoctoral research over there, and it was fantastic.

It was a, a great experience of living in a different country and exploring. I did a lot of exploring, a lot of venturing out across the States and Canada. But I had this craving to come home. I missed home,

I missed my family, I missed Australia. So I ended up coming home and then I worked with my PhD supervisor for a while.

Moira's career crisis that led her to think bigger.

Moira Clay

He gave me freedom to really pursue, what I wanted to develop in research. And it was a tremendously empowering, you know, he let me go but he was always there to support. So I, I was reasonably okay at it, to doing research, but then I had my big career crisis.

Michele Ong

Oh, so what was the crisis?

Moira Clay

I was invited by a colleague to go to a meeting of the local professional body, and they were talking about the challenges for medical researchers more broadly, the low levels of funding. And it was really difficult for researchers to progress, and that was a long time ago.

The challenges still remain in some way, shape, or form. But I decided that really lit a fire uh, for me. I, I thought, I wanna do something. I wanna save the world. I wanna make the sector a better place. It uncovered some bigger aspirations to actually not just work on my own little patch, which I knew I could do, but it wasn't going to be ultimately the most satisfying thing for me.

But I made an active decision to shift out of working at the bench into strategy.

How does one become Prime Minister?

Moira Clay

I had a goal back in those days, and that was to be Prime Minister.

Michele Ong

That is a goal. That is an absolute goal.

Moira Clay

Because I thought, if I'm gonna do this, I might as well do this for the country.

And I did actually go and see my local politician and I said to him, how do I become Prime Minister? And he said, well, he said politics needs people like you who come from different backgrounds, different heritage, different cultures, different everything, but unfortunately that's not the way it works.

You either need to be a member of a political party from before you were born, or you need to be famous. So rockstar, sports star, TV star, whatever it is. I wasn't famous and I hadn't been a member of a political party before, so no, it wasn't gonna be, but he, he gave me some really good advice.

He said, you can have as much impact from being the person behind the Prime Minister as being the front person. So, so be that person. Be the person who is influencing from behind and making a change and really focused on what you can achieve. But you don't have to be up the front to do that.

So that was really great advice. So I launched into a career of medical research strategy, which was firstly at the Heart Foundation, and it was probably one of the best times of my life and I realised just how much this was for me, this was what I had wanted. It wasn't just me drifting. It was uh, an intentional career step. I was happy. I was really, I was happy. I worked hard. I felt so fulfilled. I had every single heart researcher in the country on speed dial, and they would all talk to me. It was, it was great. It was really good. And here I am 23 years later.

Michele Ong

That is absolutely amazing. The fact that you are just so driven into the strategy and policy space because. Yeah, when, when you are working as a researcher, it's a very narrow kind of space you're looking at. But if you are motivated to affect change in larger ways, you do need to work in that space where you're heading towards strategy and policy and getting into a position where you can influence policymakers in direction for research, for science, for country, for all sorts of things. And yeah, that, that's just as lofty as a goal of being Prime Minister, if not loftier.

We ultimately want to make things better.

Moira Clay

Well, look, I, I love research. I think research is essential. Having a health system that is driven by research, understanding our health as we we've seen in the past couple of years, actually having that knowledge, which we can then implement into action and change and improve people's lives. That is the, the ultimate place that we need to be. And it's not just health, medical, it's all fields, it's really how we progress.

And I'm still a researcher. I am still within, deeply embedded in the health research arena, and that's gonna be where I stay. But I'm absolutely committed to how we as a sector can really drive improvements. We can make people's lives better. We can make the lives of families, individuals, whoever it might be, we can make it better.

Everyone can see all the challenges that are affecting us at the moment, whether it be the pandemic or chronic disease or mental health, or-- there's a lot of challenges, a lot of health challenges, and they don't just impact on health, they impact on productivity, on whether a child can be socialised and go, go to school and all of those kinds of things. It's, it's across the board. And so actually having, having research embedded at every stage, I think will ensure that we, we can meet these challenges as a society.

I have lofty goals. I want things to be be, I want things to be, be better.

Co-design, and how medical research strategy can make an impact.

Michele Ong

Yeah, and I think that's what all of us really ultimately want. So how do we use health medical research strategy to create this impact?

Moira Clay

It's a very good question. I think the key element about strategy for me is understanding where you're headed. So, so what is the goal? And whether it be cancer research or chronic disease or mental health research, it's what is a goal? Is it more effective treatments? Is it quick earlier detection of cancer? Is it a better, more holistic cancer journey. What's the ultimate goal? And I think it, it's really around working out what the aim is, what you're trying to achieve, and actually getting buy-in to that. And then you can start to work out sort of what the path is to achieve that and who you need to be on the path with you, on the journey with you.

Michele Ong

You know, given the breadth of scope of all of this, and you know, we do need to be going in the right direction, but how do you know where to drive your direction forward with limited resources?

Moira Clay

It's a great question. It's a, it's a great question cuz if you put 20 researchers in a room and they're gonna have 20 different ideas times a hundred. The question is that they've gotta be relevant. It's gotta be needed. And the key way that I see, and I think a lot of people are now seeing to make sure that that focus happens, is to get people with lived experience involved. So it's not just the researchers saying, I have an idea, but it's the researchers working with a person who actually is the expert in the condition. So someone who has been through cancer, had a stroke, whatever it might be, parents, it can just, the whole, the whole range. But it's those people who are living it who can work with the researchers and say, well, this thing doesn't really mean a whole lot to me. But if we were to work out how we could get access to this other thing more easily, then that would be really, really helpful.

That's the way to do it, to make sure it's co-designed. It's working with people, with lived experience, with policy makers, with clinicians. It's not just designed in a bubble because it's fun to do.

Michele Ong

Yeah. Which is hard because for a lot of research it's the thing that they want to do is also fun to do.

Moira Clay

Yeah, absolutely. And I think you never want to squash that spirit in researchers because they're incredibly smart people and they're really driven by discovery and how that works. So I think it's important that those avenues can also be pursued. But I think in terms of focus and where the biggest change is gonna come, it comes from co-design.

Michele Ong

Absolutely, and that, you know, that's one of the reasons why having your own consulting practice doing this sort of thing works because it must give you a lot more flexibility to work with multiple groups rather than individuals in isolation.

Moira Clay

I was, I was saying to one of my clients here the other day, that over the 10 years I've been consulting, I have literally been behind the curtains in, gosh, don't even know how many more organisations, but it's quite a lot of medical research organisations across the country, and I have been privileged to see, what drives them, what their direction is, what's important to them and to help them along the way. But everyone comes at it from a different perspective. Everyone has different people on board. I'm constantly amazed at how smart and how passionate and how driven the researchers are. This is researchers from-- who are senior in their careers to early in their careers, and I always make sure that as part of these conversations, I speak to their early career researchers cuz they have great ideas.

They really are an incredible, you know, they're the researchers of the future. So they need to be included as part of this at every stage.

Michele Ong

So do you find as a, because you're coming in from the outside as a consulting expert in trying to get, manage the strategy and figure out their direction, is that something that's easy to do as a third party, or is it something that makes it more challenging because of the fact that you've got this external view?

Moira Clay

The process is one of actually getting to know my clients, getting to know what, what it is they're wanting, and sometimes helping them define what it is they want. But because I come from it with a medical research lens. I am a researcher. I want them to succeed. I can adapt pretty quickly to who they are and what they're about and what success looks like for them.

And they trust me, I think because I am a medical researcher, I speak their language. And it's, it's a journey. It's a conversation. It's not me coming in and saying this is the law kind of thing. I'm actually working with them to help them and I don't find that challenging. I think where most research organisations are open and they're willing to share and, you know, it's, it becomes a bit of a process rather than actually needing to SWAT up on who they are. I think they're, they're pretty open about that. So we can work together, we can come on board, work out sort of what they're ultimately wanting to achieve, and help them get there.

Michele Ong

Yeah, and it, it's, it's great because when they are in that space and that frame of mind, it allows you also to be able to pull together all the little bits that you're seeing in the groups as you know, they're working together and helping to encourage their creativity in this space too.

A stretched workforce needs greater collaboration.

Moira Clay

Yes. And I, one thing I'm, I'm not afraid of um, challenging my clients and because at, sometimes they want to just really get a small group and say, well, we'll work it out between us, and I'll challenge them and say, I'll say, well, it's gonna be most effective if you talk to this broader range of people, actually hear them. The process, the journey is, just as valuable as the destination because it's getting people on board with where they're going and that's key for me. Most of my clients are very open to that and it really is sort of that process along the way, I think once they've been through that they can realise, 'wow, this is starting to uncover things which are actually fantastic'. It's getting people's input. It's really utilising the resources that are within organisations and identifying sort of where the gaps are, what are the things that they need to address, and it, it's, it's great. Good fun.

Michele Ong

It really is. And yeah, it's that spirit of collaboration that you really do want to instill and to get them to be able to, yeah, open up to other people and see what's going there as well and being able to pull, yeah, pull your resources. Because often you end up with a lot of repeated work because when you don't have that collaboration, you don't know what you've got access to.

Moira Clay

Absolutely, and researchers are stretched. I mean, they work long hours. The financial rewards aren't fantastic. And what I see so often is, is the researchers are trying to do it all themselves and I keep on saying to them, Actually talk to other people. Use the people around you. It's not all about you doing everything. There's a lot of people that can contribute a little bit to it, and it makes, it shares the load. You know, when you ask for help, it really makes a huge difference. I try and counsel researchers to say, please ask for help. Use the support that's there, because that's actually enabling them as well as you.

Michele Ong

Yeah, and it, it's funny as well because you think about how science and research, it's all work that's been based on the derivation of work of others, and you often forget that cuz you get stuck, you know, can't see the forest for the trees when you're in, in that space yourself.

Moira Clay

Yep. Very true.

The shift to cancer research.

Michele Ong

Yeah. So coming back to journeys, when you were previously with the Heart Foundation, but you are now looking quite heavily into cancer as well as children's cancer. So how did you go from that field to this one?

Moira Clay

Good question. After five years, five and a bit years in hearts, I decided I wanted to go bigger. And it's at that stage I moved into child health research which was a fabulous journey. I started working for the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne but then was recruited to go to Sydney to work for Children's Cancer Institute.

And that's, I think, where my passion for childhood cancer and actually finding solutions for childhood cancer really began. And I worked for them for several years before, uh, Fiona Stanley called me and said, can you give me some advice? I need a person to work with me to help me on research strategy here in Perth. And I said, sure. I gave her some names and she said, well, Moira, the person I really want is you. And I was working in Sydney at the time. I said, Fiona, I can't possibly move to Perth. And it was quite funny cause I was in the car with my mother at the time and I hung up and mum said, what did you say that for? Call her back. Anyway, the rest is history. Always listen to your mother. And I called her back and I moved to Perth. Which was ultimately one of the biggest joys uh, for me to get to work with someone as wonderful and as fierce and as passionate for child health, for young people's health, for family health as Fiona Stanley, it was a true privilege uh, to work with her and she's really instilled in me I think the generosity, being generous, being kind, but being fierce, being passionate, being really focused on what you want to achieve. It can all come in one package. And she is a true inspiration, a true living legend.

So yes, she got me to come over to Perth, I worked with her until she retired. And the new director of the Telethon Kids came on board, Jonathan Carapetis, which was a great appointment, but I said to him, I mean, my role was essentially a role that was made for Fiona. So I said, it's time for me to spread my wings and, and head off into the sunset.

Starting a consultancy.

Moira Clay

And as it was at that point, I decided to start a consultancy. I had no business experience at all.

Michele Ong

So what made you start it?

Moira Clay

Well, first of all, I needed to pay my mortgage, so that was one, that was one reason. But I, I think I, I just had this passion and drive for just continuing to make that change. I didn't want to be, pushing paper. I didn't want to be just irrelevant. I wanted to be someone who could help others really achieve major change in the health arena.

And so I thought starting a consultancy seemed like a good thing to do and I called all the people that I'd worked for in the past and I said, I'm starting a consultancy, have you got any projects? And 10 years later, here I am.

The Pirate Ship Foundation.

Moira Clay

So it was around about that time that I got very heavily involved in a charity here in Perth, which is now called the Pirate Ship Foundation, and that is a charity that raises money for childhood brain cancer research, and that that was also a very sort of personal and passionate cause for me having a number of friends who had children who had, were either impacted by brain cancer or who had sadly passed away.

So I did a few crazy things when I was part of that, I'm still part of the charity, but I would climb some mountains. I jumped outta planes all to raise funds for childhood brain cancer research. Great fun. Really great fun. My knees will never be the same again. Minor issue.

Michele Ong

It's alright. It was for a good cause.

Moira Clay

For a good cause.

West Australian Comprehensive Cancer Centre: The need for comprehensive cancer care.

Moira Clay

And more recently, I've got involved with planning for the West Australian Comprehensive Cancer Centre. That's some work with the Harry Perkins Institute.

And this is very personal for me because like so many people I've been impacted by cancer in my family and as I see so many people around me, dear friends, who've been through it again and again and again. And we have the opportunity, here in Perth, to make a cancer centre, which is integrating research, it's integrating the best evidence-based treatments, world-class clinical trials with the best clinical treatments. But it's holistic care. It's not just about surgery or chemo, which everybody kind of thinks is the basis of cancer, which it is, but there's a whole lot of other things because people who are going through cancer treatment.

It's hard. It's really hard. It impacts on so many facets of life. It's hard to be going around to 10 different places to get 10 different types of treatment. Why not have it all at one place? Why not have someone, people who are helping you work through the impacts of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, you know, who are advising you on exercise and diet and all of those kinds of things, things that, that are really gonna help you get through that treatment.

So it's not just about the treatment. It's not just about the cancer, it's about the person. And the people tend to be forgotten.

Michele Ong

They do. And that comes up so often when it comes to cancer journeys because you know, as an individual, yes, you're going through it as a person, but you're also going through it as a person, as a member of a family, as a member of a community, and depending on what your cancer does, like there's so much after effects of what happens afterwards. Who are you afterwards? What are you doing afterwards?

And during that journey, like they're waiting to get to that point afterwards, and it's having to be able to support them in that journey coming out of treatment as well that's so important.

Moira Clay

That's exactly right. So this is gonna be a big mountain. I've climbed mountains in the past, but this I think will be the biggest. But I think it's, I think it's possible. It won't happen overnight, but I think it's possible. I think people are wanting, the community certainly wants this. It's really working out how best to do it. And we need to, the challenge we have in Western Australia is that we have a very large state, and so it's not just about the people who are in Perth. It's not just about the people who are in the vicinity of a prospective new cancer centre. It's about everyone.

So people in Kununurra, in Esperance, in Albany, in wherever they might be, who are affected, who are diagnosed, so how can they be supported? And there's a lot of supports out there already, which is great, but it's around coordinating at are making sure that people are not isolated, have people to talk to and support through, through their cancer journey.

I was speaking to um, a young mum who returned to Perth just after COVID started, and it was around that time she was diagnosed with breast cancer. And this is a, a mum whose partner was working at FIFO and they had a little baby and she was going through that whole process and she, she wanted to talk to other young mums who were going through the process. And there was, there was nothing. There was no groups or, yes talk to these people or whatever. She ended up making her own group. Because she, she wanted to talk to people who, who were experiencing the same thing, but she had to make it for herself.

Michele Ong

Yeah. And given how common it is, it's hard to imagine that the support available is so patchy and accessibility to support is so patchy.

Moira Clay

I mean, the quality of the care is good. The challenge is it's uncoordinated. So people have to sort of trek around to get all their different cares and at the same time, they're doing a job, they've got a family, all of those other bits, as you said before, it's a community thing. But I think it's also that exercise, diet, psychological support, social support, career support, financial support. It's just the whole bit.

Michele Ong

Yeah, there're so many moving parts and because it just ripples out, people take for granted what the full impact is because they think about the immediate medical impact, but not. Everything else that comes with life.

Moira Clay

And so, I mean, this is one of the reasons that I know this is, it's very personal for me with people close to me who I've lost. But it's one of the reasons why I want to do this Walk for Women's Cancer. And it's gonna be hard, it's gonna be a long way. But at the end of the day, we are training for it, we are doing the work that we need to get there. We're gonna be supported through the process and it's not gonna be so bad.

Michele Ong

No. And it, it's a mirror for what you want for people who need care.

Moira Clay

Correct. And if I can raise some, some funds to support research, well that's great. That's the least I can do.

Michele Ong

Yes. It's a relatively small thing that you can contribute to be able to provide awareness and support for an area of research, which, you know, everyone talks about cancer research, but it is still a space that needs so much more work because of the massive impact that it has on everybody's lives.

Honeybee Venom Research by Dr Pilar Blancafort and Dr Ciara Duffy.

Moira Clay

Absolutely. And we have, we have good cancer research here in Perth. It's great. It's exciting. And it was so funny 'cause I was talking to a friend of mine in California. She sent me a WhatsApp message and she said, Oh my goodness. You people in Australia, you are nailing this cancer research. And she sent me a link to the Honeybee Venom work.

Michele Ong

Ciara Duffy and Pilar Blancafort.

Moira Clay

Yes. And, and I said, well, as it so happens, that's in Perth, and that's part of the research that these funds will contribute to. So it's, it's known worldwide.

Michele Ong

It is, and just seeing-- because obviously Perth newspapers had covered that paper when it came out, and then for months afterwards I was just seeing outlets all over the world releasing further coverage about the Bee Venom research, and it was just nice to be able to see that coming up so often because yeah, it's a massive breakthrough.

Moira Clay

Oh, it's, it's fantastic and uh, Ciara and Pilar are just fabulous women, so smart and doing this really great research. It's great to see who's done it, who's done the work, but the, but the impact that it's having.

Michele Ong

Absolutely, and it's wonderful.

West Australian Comprehensive Cancer Centre.

Michele Ong

So you've mentioned a WA Comprehensive Cancer Centre, and I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit more about that.

Moira Clay

I think the vision for a comprehensive cancer centre, it's a big vision uh, for Perth, and people say, but don't we already have cancer centres here, and we do have cancer treatment centres here, and there's good centres at Fiona Stanley and Charlie Gairdners, et cetera, and some private places.

The challenge is, is that they're spread out. They're not integrated, they don't integrate the full package of care, they're not integrated with research and clinical trials. So it's about bringing it all together. So that it will work collaboratively with all existing centres both around the state and around Perth. So it's not just, it's not intended to be the only thing, but it will become that beacon for really integrating everything in and having that holistic approach to care.

Michele Ong

Yeah, I can't even fathom like the amount of work that would be required, not just to get the infrastructure in, but the people in, having to be able to create the integration between access for research and access for patients and access for practicing. And yeah, when it happens, it'll be such an incredible resource because, it's so hard as it is where, in Perth specifically, they do try to keep all of their medical stuff in the kind of the general one space.

But that's still specifically medical and you still have to traipse across the town to be able to get to other things for that support. So yes, it is one of those things where it's just amazing to see and it's such a wonderful initiative to be able to have that developed here.

Exercise for reduction of cancer risk and treatment efficacy.

Moira Clay

I was talking to someone at Edith Cowan, a guy called Rob Newton. He's a specialist in exercise as a, a treatment for cancer. And there's a lot of evidence now to show that exercise can actually help enhance the efficacy, efficacy, uh, of the treatments, but also diminish the side effects which is great. And we were talking about how exercise can also diminish risk of cancer.

It's messages like this that that that need to be broadcast far and wide, and look, the Cancer Council and Rob and his team they do it, but we need to turn the volume up big time. Because I, I mean, as far as I'm concerned, as someone who's getting older, I want to keep exercising. So there's another reason for doing this Walk for Cancer because it, it's, it's a help for me. And it's, all of this is, is really good for anyone. So it's not just heart disease. Heart disease is, is a big deal. I think exercise and understanding sort of how we can actually live more healthy in the community rather than get into that point where we need intervention. That's better way to be as far as I'm concerned.

Michele Ong

Yeah. And you know, comprehensive isn't just end-to-end medical, it's end-to-end preventative as well. And that's where all of this comes in.

And because people keep talking about the fact that we do have markers that can tell us whether we're at risk or we have family history that puts us at high risk. Being able to have these resources to be able to individually be empowered to go, right, comprehensive cancer centre, this is my background. What can I do to, you know, stop this or prevent this or reduce my risk. It's amazing. I love that.

Moira Clay

Yeah, so it's, it's exciting. It's gonna keep me busy for the next little while, and I mean, to be honest, there could be a lot worse things to be kept busy on. And the team, Peter Leedman, who runs the Perkins, is an amazing person. He's really had been the person to sort of develop this vision.

But it's a whole lot of people around him and people who've been through the cancer journeys and who are absolutely committed to this. And the researchers, it's, it's amazing the army that is building up around how we can fight cancer in this state. And ultimately, it's not just about, this state. There are comprehensive cancer centres being developed in every single state right now. So, so there's existing centres in Victoria, New South Wales, there's centre's being developed in Queensland and South Australia, in Tasmania, which is really exciting and we are talking to all of them even now.

So we, we wanna make sure that all of these centres are connected, so, if a patient can't get access to something here, they can get access through a connection with New South Wales or South Australia or something like that.

Michele Ong

Absolutely. And it just makes us so much more efficient as well because that way you just are able to share this access to resources and methods and opportunities for people because you know, there's just so many different paths for care for people and no one centre's ever gonna be able to provide it all. So having a network is such an amazing thing to be able to have access to.

Moira Clay

And it's so nice to see different parts of the country connected and collaborating and supporting each other, and, this is the way it needs to be.

Michele Ong

It is. This is the way. This is exactly the way. Yeah. So let's see. Ah, yes, coming up on the hour. So I've got one last question for you before we start to wrap up.

This has been such an incredible conversation to have with you, Moira, I really appreciate speaking with you today about your journey from biochemistry to heart research and cancer research and all the way that you're doing in strategy and policy.

What advice you would give someone who wants to do what you do? Or what advice should they ignore?

Michele Ong

But you know, if someone wants to do what you do, what advice would you give them and what advice should they ignore?

Moira Clay

I think the advice that I would give ultimately to anyone who's wanting to go down this path is go and talk to people. That conversation I had with that MP all those years ago was so great because I had a vision of what I wanted to be, which was, a little bit naive. But it, it really, his advice really set me on the path.

So go and talk to people. Go and, and anyone is always welcome to contact, to reach out to me and ask me questions about those kinds of career moves, talk to people, ask them how it works. Ask them if they could come on board and, you know, work for, for me for a week just to see what it's like. I think talking to people, seeking help, getting advice, that would be the number one piece of advice.

And in terms of what not to do, my advice is don't just jump into things because that's what everyone else is doing.

Now I, I'm not saying that an MBA or any kind of thing like that is a bad thing to do. I think it's great as long as it helps you achieve your aims. And I, I think that the box ticking is not a good idea.

You need to make sure that it's gonna be what you want to get you on your path. your path is your path. It's not anyone else's path.

Michele Ong

That is excellent advice because often the box ticking is for other people's benefit and not your own.

Moira Clay

Correct. Correct.

It's the joy of seeing incredible people do incredible things. But I think the time when I made the transition into strategy, that was the time that I chose my path and I discovered that that's where I wanted to be. And here I am.

Michele Ong

Yeah, and it's, it's so important because you wouldn't have thought to go down the path you did if you didn't have those conversations.

And yeah. Even, I mean, talking to an MP, that seems out of the box, but you know, it's one of those things where you need perspective. And even if you're on a different kind of trajectory, you are able to get that kind of outside look at, you know, if, where could I take what I'm doing outside the traditional spaces?

Moira Clay

And that that's right. And that MP I, I haven't come across him again. Michele is, as you know, MPs are approachable. They're real people too, and they've got good perspective.

Michele Ong

They do. It's amazing. Okay. Well thank you so much again, Moira. This has been absolutely wonderful. If people would like to know more about what you do, where can they go?

Moira Clay

They can go to my website for the business, www.moiraclayconsulting.com.au and they can reach out to me through there.

Michele Ong

Fantastic. And I'll also leave links to the Walk for Women's Cancer. If people would like to donate to the cause, they can do that through the website, walkforwomenscancer.org.au or they can donate directly to Perkins, also I'll link Pirate Ship Foundation, where you can learn more about childhood cancer.

Moira Clay

Terrific. Michele, it's been a pleasure.

Michele Ong

It's been absolutely wonderful. Thank you so much Moira and I hope you have an amazing rest of your day.

Moira Clay

Thank you so much.

Michele Ong

If you enjoyed this conversation, please let me know. Subscribe to this show, leave us a rating and share this with your geeky or geek-curious friends. You can also support STEAM Powered on Patreon under steampoweredshow the link for which also be in the show notes. Thanks for tuning in, and we'll see you next time.

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