Brenda Cerquiera – Clinical researcher
From Brazil to Queensland via New Zealand
Born in Brazil, Brenda Cerqueira emigrated to New Zealand as a teenager, where she completed her education and earned post-graduate science qualifications in pharmacology, toxicology, and drug development.
After spending some time in Sydney, she was headhunted in 2019 by a Brisbane-based contract research organisation (CRO) for a clinical research role. Subsequently, Brenda was nominated on a Skilled Nominated (Permanent) visa (subclass 190) as a Research and Development Manager by Migration Queensland, and was granted permanent residency in January 2020.
Soon after, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and the push to develop a COVID-19 vaccine became urgent.
The role of the contract research organisation
Brenda says that CROs play a vital role in developing new medicines and vaccines, especially during a global pandemic.
“Phase 1 of a clinical trial aims to establish safety, and to do so, you need to test the vaccine on young and healthy volunteers that are at a very low risk of catching the disease – meaning Australia was a perfect choice for the COVID-19 vaccine.”
Brenda typically monitors up to six trials at any time, running in several hospitals either in Queensland or interstate. She has been an integral part of a global team running the trial for one of the 10 COVID-19 vaccines recommended for development by the World Health Organisation.
Global talent for global challenges
Skilled migrants like Brenda bring invaluable skills to the Queensland community – and, in this case, to a global challenge.
As Brenda says, developing an effective COVID-19 vaccine is a team effort, and one that is the focus of intense scrutiny.
“I’m part of a big team, including the volunteers who offer their time, the nurses, the doctors, and the pharmacists. Everyone has contributing to ensuring the development and implementation of a safe vaccine.”
Last published: 8:40 AM, Tuesday, 16 November 2021