Category: Uncategorised

Defining Henrietta Lacks

by Matt Wheeler |

Since arriving at Makara Health in 2020, I have been fortunate to be involved in a wide range of project types, many of which were new to me initially.

One such baptism of fire included an introduction to ‘speaker slides’. Receiving slides from an expert in the field to make ready for presenting can feel a little daunting, but is an invaluable opportunity to learn more about an evolving treatment option, for example, or be more informed about a disease area.

One thing that can be challenging is identifying and defining medical abbreviations and acronyms, which seem to be essentially infinite. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought several into the public consciousness (CPAP, LFT, PCR, PPE, next slide please…)

This can be particularly difficult when an abbreviation may have multiple meanings! Google can sometimes only take you so far…

However, one thing I am certainly glad about is coming across this one – HeLa.

HeLa cells are named after Henrietta Lacks, an African-American woman who died in 1951 as a result of aggressive cervical cancer, at the age of just 31. A tumour biopsied during her treatment was the source of the first ‘immortalised’ human cell line, i.e. one that can reproduce indefinitely under certain conditions.  

These cells have since been used in a vast number of research applications, including the first polio vaccine (among many other vaccines), cancer investigations and advancements in gene mapping.

I recently read an excellent book by investigative journalist Rebecca Skloot, originally published over a decade ago. Whilst she describes the scientific advances made possible by HeLa cells in detail (whilst remaining accessible), the ethical implications of what happened to Henrietta are also explored. Her permission for use of her cells was not sought, and her family were not aware of the existence of the cell line until years after Henrietta’s death; they have also not benefitted from the commercialisation of the cells.

The issue of consent is obviously viewed differently today, over 70 years later. This is explored further in a more recent article in Nature, including the impact of racial disparities in both medical research and treatment. There is often a disconnect between clinical study and real-world populations, including race, ethnicity, sex and age. In the UK, as in many places across the globe, the pandemic shone a light on inequalities and their impact on outcomes. In medical communications, we are beholden to fulfil our role in driving towards equity, whether that’s through ensuring all pertinent populations are appropriately represented in promotional materials, or considering the best way to reach patients with information (for example, if they don’t have reliable internet access) – this must be part of project planning from the very beginning.

I would thoroughly recommend reading Ms Skloot’s book – “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”. The book quotes the below – words to live by, whether in the realm of medicine, medical communications, or indeed any other context.

“We must not see any person as an abstraction. Instead, we must see in every person a universe with its own secrets, with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish, and with some measure of triumph.”

Elie Wiesel, a Nazi concentration camp survivor and renowned author.

Working with a disability – Invisible to the naked eye

by Benjamin Perez |


Hello! I’m Ben and I am severily (that was semi-intentional) dyslexic, as some of you may know already. For disability awareness day, I’d like to share some information about the unique challenges I face when working in the Client Services Team (CS team) at Makara Health. My job is incredibly varied which I feel enables me to approach jobs in a variety of ways.

Definition: What is it and how does it affect me?

Dyslexia can affect people in a variety of ways, include reading, writing, spelling abilities and verbal memory to name a few. Some people who are dyslexic are stupendous readers/writers, but can have issues with comprehension, so it always defers depending on the person. I was always told that apparently people who are dyslexic are more creative… I must’ve missed the memo on that one. Still trying to work out what my strengths are, but we’ll get there I’m sure (I do tend to remember random/unnecessary things though!).

Personal Experiences

This could turn out to be a therapy session with Microsoft Word, but here goes! When I was younger, I always felt my brain worked a bit differently to others. When learning something I always had to visualise a mind map in my brain, and it contained the steps that led to the answer or conclusion. It made revising a bit more laborious as I had to read everything and create myself a mental image of how these all components created an answer. I really enjoyed reading but to properly take in information I had to concentrate hard on every word. I think I’d choose the ability of skim reading as a superpower, as my brain does not allow me to do it, which is a bit of a pain. Exams were stressful as I’d spend too much time reading the questions to make sure that it had registered properly. Upon reflection, this had a big impact on my confidence. One of my biggest fears is writing more than 300 words, yet here we are writing a blog entry. Wild.

I vividly remember the day when I finally booked a screening for dyslexia in 2013. I’d submitted an essay in my final year of university and I thought I’d absolutely smashed it … I wish. Despite all the hours I’d put into the assignment, when the results came out I found out I got a 34, which was a bit of a bummer. I was intrigued to find out what I’d done wrong, or why I’d marked so low. So, in slightly bemused spirits, I saw the lecturer who showed me a plethora of grammatical, spelling and lexical mistakes. The awkward part was, I couldn’t see why/how these were wrong, it read perfectly well to me. The lecturer must’ve thought I was joking, as he started looking at me like I was playing some sort of game. Eventually, I just admitted defeat , went home and spent a couple of hours playing FIFA before I started googling why/what this could be. I booked myself in for a dyslexia screening because my partner and couple of my housemates suggested it. I scored incredibly high in most elements, especially comprehension, where I was randomly making answers up completely unrelated to the passage of text that I’d just read. The examiner said ‘Wow, well you’re certainly dyslexic’. First time I’d come away from a test feeling like I’d absolutely smashed it. Finally I knew why I’d always felt my brain worked a bit differently to others.

One of the main issues I find is that if I read a passage of text and someone asks me to find a specific sentence, it’s as if words just disappear and I’m unable to locate it, like the paragraph is just moving words and sentences around. it takes me an age to read a paragraph and given I sometimes have the patience of a toddler it can get irritating, so to all of you skim readers out there, be uber grateful! Interestingly, I marked okay on reading, spelling and memory as a Benephant never forgets.

Interestingly, I don’t seem to struggle as much with the other languages I speak (Spanish, Portuguese and Italian). I think this could be because they are all romance ones, so everything is spelt how it sounds. Whereas in English this is not the case, so my brain gets very confused with words such as exaggerate, subtle, conscious, architecture and psychology to name a few.


At university I was very lucky to be given extra time during exams to ensure I had fully understood questions before answering. I was also able to use the added time to proofread my answers at a slower and relaxed pace.

As I result of this, writing long passages of text can take me a fair bit longer than the average person. So, I have a handy text to speech app that I use to help me make sense of longer paragraphs and its grammatical structures. I am a slave to Arial/Calibri fonts as they’re apparently very dyslexic friendly due to the clarity of each letter, and the letters feel less crowded to me, so I use those as much as possible. It’s a dream that the Makara Health Brand Template uses Calibri font, thank you!

When I’m reading texts, I sometimes use colour overlays that make the screen a bit nicer on my eyes, as black text on white background can sometimes confuse me and cause words and sentences to get a bit muddled. There’s a super handy overlay app on Chrome that I sometimes use that gives me the option to add colour to some websites, especially if it’s very text heavy. My favourite colours are lime green, yellow and blue, try them if you fancy changing it up!

With regards to written communication, Ctrl F is an absolute god send because words move around for me. I try to use spell-checking/proofreading applications as much as possible, too. I’ve got a checklist for writing tasks that help me to maintain consistency, reduce errors and ensure I’ve checked all the necessary points. I’ll get one of the other team members to  give it a run through and let me know of any glaring errors, which they’re always happy to do.

Dyslexic individuals can sometimes also struggle with time management and organisation, which are obviously pretty crucial in the kind of work we do within the CS Team. To help myself out I use digital tools/reminders such as task management apps and calendar reminders on Outlook to keep on top of ongoing tasks and delegate accordingly depending on the urgency of a task/job. With bigger tasks/projects, I create mind maps and flow charts to fully understand the stages of a job and where I’m currently at. This enables me to break tasks into manageable steps and makes a bigger job less daunting for me.

I’m very much a visual learner so I work best when I’m watching someone do a task, as opposed to listening to a task being explained. But I’d like to think that I’ve been able to implement a variety of learning methods thanks to working with the CS Team, and therefore use step processes to help me do more jobs more efficiently and at times quicker depending on the deadline.


Before being diagnosed, I had no idea what dyslexia was. So, it’s been a bit of a journey working out how I can best manage my condition, make appropriate adjustments, and still do a good job. I think I’m getting there, and I feel very lucky that everyone at Makara Health is so accommodating to any additional support that I need. After all, it’s not easy being dyslexic and left-handed…

Wellbeing at Makara

by Linda Villegas |

This week marks wellbeing week, and to celebrate we’ve written a blog to summarise some of the many ways we aim to support employee wellbeing here at Makara. Promoting all aspects of wellbeing is important to us because as research shows, high levels of wellbeing are often associated with lower rates of illness, as well as increased longevity and productivity. With the majority of our workforce working from home, we’re proud that we have plenty of successful tried and tested activities as well as  a culture based on kindness and flexibility that allows each of us to maintain a healthy work/life balance.

At the heart of Makara is a sense of being part of a family, and since our recent acquisition by Precision Value and Health who hold many of the same principles as us, we are happily part of a bigger family.  Makara, like any family, is committed to ensuring everyone is supported in their day-to-day work and their day-to-day wellbeing, whether it’s mental, physical or financial. As an agile company with the majority of employees working remotely, wellbeing is taken seriously and openly discussed –  we take care to care for others we work with which is important when you are not face-to-face or side by side every day.

So, what are these tried and tested activities you may ask? Here is a sample of a few:

  • Encouragement to take regular breaks and to take the time to chat to others, especially those you don’t work with. Our longstanding ‘coffee pals’ scheme randomly matches people up for a chat and a cuppa.
  • Reminders to stretch and do exercises to avoid the niggles commonly linked with desk work. We hope this helps to balance the sometimes more stressful periods of life and keep everyone happy.
  • Monthly wellbeing themes that have covered a range of topics from Nutrition & Hydration, where we would remind everyone to drink plenty of water and share our favourite healthy recipes, to the Importance of Sleep, where we shared tips and videos for those who have trouble falling and staying asleep.
    • Our most recent theme for the month of May was ‘Walking in Nature’, which involved a walking competition called Makara Takes a Hike to encourage people to spend time in nature and to raise awareness and much needed funds for our chosen charities. It is scientifically proven that nature can do wonders for mental health so now that the sun is out, why not use this time to go to your nearest nature reserve or have a phone meeting outside. Nature is a very big part of our culture, so we try and implement some sort of activity where nature is involved.
    • In the coming months and in line with mental health and wellbeing, we will be launching a gratitude and appreciation month, a Mindfulness month and much more – so stay tuned!

And how do we cultivate a culture of kindness and flexibility?

  • We signed up to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation’s ‘Kindness in the Workplace Pledge’. This is a promise to our employees and clients that we are committed to making kindness the norm at Makara. We celebrate this pledge proudly by displaying the Random Acts of Kindness monthly calendar on our intranet where we also have access to meditation videos, recipes and all things wellbeing.
  • We promote and talk about kindness as one of our core company values.
  • We allow people to manage their work and life as best suits them, while always being mindful of delivering excellent client service

In addition to all this we also have the WellSoc (wellbeing and social) internal workstream which sees several members of the Makara team discuss and implement activities to improve employee wellbeing and encourage socialising across the Makara family. Since this has been set up, we’ve seen many a quiz from our in-house quiz master Ben, as well as Halloween fancy dress and pumpkin carving competitions and of course, the Makara pet show. Expect plenty more from WellSoc over the next few months, as we cover topics ranging from ‘Favourite Chocolates’ to ‘Body Positivity’, and I’m sure a few more quizzes along the way! As always, if you have any ideas for what you would like to see from WellSoc, please feel free to drop the team a message.

So much of our time is spent at work, it is important the workplace is a happy, fun, comfortable, positive, kind and flexible place to be, as well a productive place to be. Afterall, if we have happy employees, we have happy clients!

Mental Health: we can all make a difference

by Makara |

Mental Health Awareness Week: 15-21 May 2023

You won’t need to look far to find someone who is affected by mental health issues. Shockingly, one in four people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England.1

But what would you say to someone who is struggling? How could you support them? What could you actually do to help?

These were the questions that were bothering me every time I saw mental health discussed on TV, when I was worried about a colleague who’d become withdrawn or learnt of a friend who was struggling. I wanted to help, but how? What if I said the wrong thing? It turns out I’m not alone. A recent survey from MHFA England found that a third of managers felt out of their depth supporting their team with mental health concerns.2

This is what led me to sign-up to a mental health first aider course last year. The Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) programme was set up to extend the concept of first aid training to include mental health issues, empowering people to provide support. MHFA England runs a range of online and face-to-face training courses for individuals or workplace groups, providing basic knowledge about mental health issues, an easy-to-follow action plan, and information about professional and other support available.

From my perspective, the course has given me the confidence to ask how people really are, and to navigate those conversations so, where appropriate, I can give the right support and information. It’s also made me more aware of the mental health warning signs to look out for so, if needed, now I can actually do something to help.

That includes in the workplace. Mental health can affect any of us, at any stage of life, and as employers, line mangers and colleagues, we can play a really important role in supporting good mental health at work. At Makara Health, our open and honest culture, and our ‘kindness’ value help to ensure an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing mental health with managers and colleagues, without judgement or stigma, with professional support available via the private health scheme where needed. So whether through initiatives and strategies to support employee wellbeing and work-life balance, or by simply being aware of the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions and being there to listen and support colleagues, we can all make a difference.

To find out more about MHFA training courses, visit:

Written by El Craven, Business Unit Director, PR (maternity cover)

  1. McManus, S., Meltzer, H., Brugha, T. S., Bebbington, P. E., & Jenkins, R. (2009). Adult psychiatric morbidity in England, 2007: results of a household survey.
  2. MHFA England (2023) Survey shows managers are ‘out of their depth’ on mental health. Available at: Accessed May 2023.

It’s a team game – what we can learn from sporting principles to get the win

by Matt Wheeler |

I think of myself as a pretty straightforward sort of person – and perhaps a fairly predictable one!

During the week, you’ll find me at my desk, working on all kinds of different medical communications projects. At the weekend, I am almost certainly indulging my love of sports – generally observing, although I’m hoping to get back on the squash court soon. My absolute favourite place to be is at Franklin’s Gardens, home of the Northampton Saints rugby side.

The truth is that there is plenty in common between agency and sports teams. We have to be able to work in synergy to achieve a common goal, we have to be focussed, we have to communicate, and we have to have effective leadership.

If you’re a fan of tortured metaphors, then please do continue on…


“If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.”

Mark Spitz, 9-time Olympic champion swimmer

In the project run up, we get ready. We work to get the brief exactly right, make sure the project team is well constructed and has the right experience to deliver, and know what an ideal performance looks like.

3pm on a Saturday – (or hopefully not)

“Do you know what my favourite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.”

Mike Singletary, former linebacker and head coach in the NFL

This is the fun bit – the opportunity to ‘do what we do’, whether we’re crafting the beautifully-written claim, designing the perfect ad, or building a website with the best UX – we all want to put our best work on tape, and on the field.

Half time – no time for the hairdryer

“Champions keep playing until they get it right.”

Billie Jean King, former world No. 1 tennis player and pioneer for equality and social justice

So, the draft is back from review, and it’s time to push the project through to the end. We need to understand what’s happened so far, make any tactical adjustments and get ready for the next steps. The team needs to know the plan for the second half, and the leaders need to make sure that morale stays high.

The last five minutes – it’s money time

“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.”

Dean Karnazes, ultra endurance athlete

The end of the project can sometimes be the hardest part – the team has given their all, and the ‘final whistle’ is approaching. It’s vital to stay switched on and give the last bit of effort needed to get over the line.

Post-match – collecting the corner flags

“I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Michael Jordan, world renowned basketball player

Before we can move on, we need to learn any lessons we can for the next go around. It’s easy to see where to improve when you lose, but the best teams strive to learn from their victories too.

So, a tortured metaphor, and not a totally original one – what’s my point?

Nowadays, in top level sport, coaches have access to vast amounts of sport science data, and can watch their players out on the field, giving them the information they need to optimise performance.

For agencies working in remote teams, that kind of immediate feedback can be harder to come by. Effective communication is paramount in helping all members of the team deliver their best – whether it’s veterans coaching up the newer recruits, or if the manager needs a lift from their charges after a challenging couple of weeks. It’s something we work hard at, no matter the stage of career or job title, whether it’s through regular catch-ups, or providing concise and actionable feedback.

Working in that kind of environment leads to success – and some trophies on the mantelpiece. It’s no coincidence that we have that kind of award-winning squad at Makara – talented players, of course, but supported by a set-up designed so that we can flourish: working remotely physically, but very much part of a team.

The future of patient partnerships

by Victoria Morton |

The work we do as a Patient Insights and Support function at Makara Health has always had a strong focus on input and insights from real people – patients are also people after all, and we have a strong commitment to empathy and respect in everything we do. We support our clients to build and create strong partnerships with patient organisations and implement successful collaborations for the benefit of patients.

Developing good relationships through patient engagement and support is not a new concept. The pharmaceutical industry has been increasingly focused on patient centricity and the importance of partnering with patient organisations over the past 20 years, and rightly so. This consistent and increasing focus on patient engagement activities can enormously enhance the delivery of patient information, support and potentially the treatments themselves. As industry and patient groups continue to work together partnerships change and evolve and grow.

All good stuff right?

Yes of course. At Makara Health, we want to continue to help our clients and the organisations we work with explore how these critical relationships can be improved and deepened. Our Makara mindset is there’s always room for improvement in our book.

The pharmaceutical industry is the most patient focused it’s ever been. 80% of the top pharmaceutical companies cite some iteration of a patient-centred approach as a core value to their organisation. But what does a truly patient-approach mean? It’s a board term, and it takes different forms and has varying degrees. Patient centricity and patient engagement are inherently linked but are different. For us, patient centricity is a mindset and patient engagement is the delivery/ways in which patient centricity is delivered.

With impending industry-wide changes to measurements and reporting guidance for patient-focused drug development (PFDD), encouraging an end-to-end patient strategy, are pharma companies across the board ready for this upcoming change in 2025? If the pharmaceutical industry wants to be truly patient centric throughout the product life cycle, then surely that starts with:

  1. Consistently embracing a patient centric mindset and keeping the patient front of mind
  2. Considering how we interact in every way with the groups that represent those patients

Makara Health has initiated a project to explore these interactions and partnerships to uncover the perspective of patient groups when it comes to partnerships with industry.  An in depth listening exercise to uncover how critical partnerships between industry and the third sector can be enhanced for the good of patients.  The Good Patient Partnership Guide contains concise insights and clear, tangible recommendations for industry professionals striving to initiate or improve engagement policy and process and for those already doing great work, looking to up their game in this space, with our ‘great’ and ‘stellar’ recommendations.

Want to know more about the insights and recommendations then stay tuned for our Guide launching very soon…

Learning from  “Lessons in Chemistry”

by Helen Rae |

February 11th marks the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, providing a moment to reflect on the significant gender gap that still persists in the majority of STEM disciplines. Taking a step back and looking to the past, it’s good to acknowledge we have come a long way. I’m still seething after finishing the glorious “Lessons in Chemistry”, a must-read book by Bonnie Garmus. The injustice suffered by the main character, Elizabeth Zott, as she battles to have her clinical research recognised in the male dominated scientific community of the 1950s, is excruciating.

Sadly whilst Zott’s predicament is purely fictional, this story has played out countless times in the real world. Take Rosalind Franklin for example, her work using X-ray crystallography was instrumental in the discovery of the structure of DNA. Unbeknownst to her, her work was shown to other scientists namely James Watson and Francis Crick, who later won a Nobel Prize for discovering the structure of DNA. That’s only one story we know of; how many more had their research stolen and credited to male colleagues, or simply gave up the fight and are consigned to obscurity?

I do feel lucky, that after studying Biomedical Sciences at university I stepped into medcomms and thrived in an area which provided the opportunity to continue to flex my scientific knowledge in my day to day work. Currently working at Makara I’m fortunate enough to work for a female boss, shattering any perception of a glass ceiling. Our 20-strong scientific team is 80% women and non-binary people is another reason to be hopeful.

But what of the clinical researchers who have followed Rosalind Franklin? Yes, there has been progress but a lack of women in science still exists today. This starts at a grass roots level with females only making 35% of students studying core STEM subjects.1

For university graduates, it’s even lower with females making up only 26% for core STEM subjects, but this figure has been steadily increasing over recent years. As you get to the workplace the number drops again with females making up 24% of employees in 2019, but this is up from 21% in 2016.1

Why does this all this matter? Well recent a recent Elsiver Connect article revealed that that gender diversity is crucial to science, in three ways.2

  1. It’s been shown scientific research is more accurate when gender is considered. Most scientific research does not adequately consider sex or gender as variables resulting in male results being treated as the norm. It’s clear that whether you’re studying seat belt design or heart medication for products to be safe and effective they should be tested on both genders
  2. Women bring unique perspectives to research and scientific conversation, diversity adds to the collective intelligence of a research group, enhancing creativity and providing new contexts to understand societal aspects of the research
  3. There is a need for more STEM professionals, and women have a clear role to play as Prof. James Stirling, Provost of Imperial College London, in Elsevier’s gender report stated: “With this level of gender imbalance, we are not properly exploiting the UK scientific talent base. If we want more high-quality scientists, I am absolutely convinced that we will find them amongst the female population, and that is why encouraging more young women into STEM and supporting them properly is so vitally important.”

It’s encouraging to see that the need for diversity is being openly recognised. For me being in a scientific role within med comms in a women-led team is bucking the trend, it would be great to see this reflected across the scientific field as a whole. What I hope is that when my daughter reaches the stage when she is deciding on a career path, that no barrier exists and the imbalance is consigned to history.



They/Them… Working Outside of the Binary

by Makara |

Here at Makara Health, our lovely HR department is well into the process of updating our Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Policy, and – as someone who adds a little diversity to the workplace because of my gender identity – it got me thinking about equality and inclusion. You see, one of the things I’ve always valued in a workplace is the ability to bring myself to work, exactly as I am. At 40 years of age, I’ve done a lot of pretending to be “normal”, and here at Makara, I’ve felt like my true self has been not only accepted but viewed positively by my co-workers. I feel equal, and I feel included. I don’t need to pretend to be normal, because I and my differences are seen and treated as normal.

Let’s start at the beginning. My gender identity first presented as a bit of an in-joke in my family. These were very much the early days of the modern open discussion of transgender identity, and – don’t worry – I was in on the joke (I came up with half of them!). People would ask, “have you ever noticed that your kids are the wrong way round?” when referring to the very boyish ways I sometimes behaved and the openness of my brother when expressing emotion. Or, for those who only noticed my behaviour, “It’s like you’ve got two sons, not one”. My mum tried her best to wedge me into dresses but for most of my childhood was faced with a taffeta-clad tantrum when she tried. But as much as I was masculine, I was also feminine. I loved my long hair being put into ringlets. “She’s just a tomboy, she’ll soon get interested in makeup and heels when she discovers boys”. But the make-up and heels never did come along. There were points growing up when I wondered if there’d been some colossal mistake and if I was actually a boy, but that identity didn’t really fit. I knew I wasn’t a “proper” girl, but I wasn’t a boy either.

I kind of envy kids growing up today (and kind of don’t, at least none of the dumb stuff I did as a kid was captured on camera and posted on TikTok!) but kids today have so many words to describe who they are and places to go to find out more. I just thought I was defective.

Then one day I heard a description. Imagine the music you might hear in a movie when the clouds part to reveal a ray of light that shines on exactly what the hero is looking for. Are you imagining it? Good. It’s important for atmospheric purposes.


Not only am I not defective. There are enough other people like me out there that there’s a name for it.

I’m keenly aware of the importance of words in my role as a writer, and there’s something particularly jarring about not having the words to describe yourself. You feel unrepresented, uncared for, misunderstood, not real… other. Everything becomes more clunky and complicated… “well it’s kind of like I’m a bit this but not completely and also a bit that” and in the end, you just settle with “I’m that”. Which is what I did. I decided it was easier to identify as a woman because my biological sex is female. But I always felt like I was lying, or that I was some weird subsection of woman that wasn’t quite the same as the rest. Now I had a description. I am non-̩binary.

However, despite having words to define ourselves, and seeing some increase in the open-mindedness of society as a whole, it can still be pretty bleak out there.

In a recent survey of those who identify as LGBT+ in the UK, 6.9% of respondents identified as non-binary. While the average UK life satisfaction is 7.7/10, it’s only 5.5 for non-binary individuals, and over three-quarters of non-binary individuals avoid expressing their gender identity for fear of a negative response from others. There is also no legal recognition of non-binary individuals in the UK.

We’ve come a long way, but there’s still so far to go. While we’re waiting for more acceptance and formalised recognition, our safe spaces are literal lifesavers. If you know someone non-binary or trans, talk to them about their experiences and ask them what you could do to make their lives better – although be sure to check they are comfortable talking about it and respect them if they are not. Show yourself to be a safe space. We need safe spaces.

I am incredibly grateful that my workplace is a safe space for me to be myself. When you feel comfortable enough to stop pretending, you can drop that heavy, exhausting mask and use your energy to be creative and to get on with life… just like everyone else.


*At this point I’d like to add that the trans experience is incredibly varied, not only in terms of identity but in terms of how people proceed socially and medically. I can only give an account of my personal experience of being non-binary. Should you wish to learn more about the trans experience, there’s a wealth of resources on the internet and lots of fantastic trans content creators on social media that you can interact with to find out more.

Makara Health creates Joint MD role as Louise Sharp steps into CEO position


UK-based international healthcare communications agency, Makara Health, has announced the promotion of Katie Bright and Helen Laurence into Joint Managing Director (JMD) roles as Louise Sharp becomes Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Following the bolstering of the senior team in recent years and the continued success of the agency, the new roles have been created to share and manage ongoing growth across its five core functional offerings of medical education, learning and development, brand and promotion, PR, and patient education. The change will also create additional space for Louise to support the business strategically, drive new business and become more active within the broader medical communications industry.

Katie will step up from her role as Deputy Managing Director and will continue to actively support and develop business infrastructure, as well as overseeing the L&D and brand functions, and the in-house creative and digital teams. Helen, who was previously Executive Director – PR and Medical Education, will continue to oversee those functions, as well as shaping marketing strategy, and working with the Executive Director of Scientific Strategy to support the agency’s team of experienced scientific writers.

Both will continue to work closely with the leadership and management teams to ensure Makara maintains its core values of integrity, intelligence and kindness.

Katie and Helen have both worked at Makara since the early days and know the business inside out. They bring considerable and diverse experience with them from their careers prior to Makara and have different but complementary skills sets. I am thrilled to see them step into this joint role and look forward to continuing to build and grow the agency together for the benefit of our clients. I also look forward to playing a more active role in the wider medical communications industry in my new position.

Louise Sharp

It’s a huge privilege to take on the role of Joint Managing Director at Makara, working with such a truly talented group of individuals. I’m also thrilled to be taking on the role in partnership with Helen, who has been an inspiring and valued colleague and friend ever since we both joined the agency around 7 years ago.

Katie Bright

As long-term members of the team, Katie and I are lucky to have been part of the Makara journey and are united in our determination to continue to offer our clients the excellent service they have come to expect, while maintaining a flexible and inspiring culture for our people. We are delighted to have recently received a Best Companies accreditation as an Outstanding Place to Work and that’s an accolade we intend to live up to!

Helen Laurence