How pharmacist Lisa Jamieson is raising awareness of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome

Posted March 30, 2018

by Julia Robinson, originally featured on on 26 March 2018

Lisa Jamieson’s self-diagnosis of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome came years after she first became unwell. Here she tells Julia Robinson how she discovered the link between her seemingly unrelated symptoms, and how her research is raising awareness of the connective tissue disorder.

A constant drive to get more from her career has enabled Lisa Jamieson to become not only a jack of all trades, but a master of some of them as well.

Although she started in community pharmacy, Jamieson’s varied career and desire to be a generalist means she now splits her time between a research collaboration with a world-leading expert and being self-employed, carrying out consultancy work at the interface between the pharmaceutical industry and the NHS.

But how does a community pharmacist end up making the leap into research? Jamieson’s story is quite unique.

A varied career

Jamieson registered as a pharmacist in 1995, and spent the first four years of her career working as a community pharmacist in Surrey, initially for a large multiple and then as a self-employed locum. A few years into the role, she returned to university to complete a clinical diploma, but emerged from the University of Bradford with a Master’s (MSc) degree in clinical pharmacy instead.

Jamieson had her first taste of research while studying the management of patients with hypertension in a general practice setting — a project which, she says, “grew arms and legs”.

“It was enormous and when I finished, my tutor said it was like a PhD, but for the sample size, with the amount of work I’d done.”

Jamieson’s study ended up being chosen for the press release for the British Pharmaceutical Conference in 2004, where it was also published as a poster.

During her MSc, Jamieson took on one of the first practice-based primary care pharmacist roles in the country, in what was then the West Surrey Health Authority.

That was in the 1990s — just as the structure of the NHS started to change and practice-based primary care roles were being introduced. After around five years, Jamieson took on the role of lead primary care pharmacist in the South West Surrey area of Surrey Primary Care Trust (PCT), in which she managed a team of six primary care pharmacists. However, five years on from that, in 2010, she decided she was once again ready for a new challenge.

“I took a sideways move into clinical commissioning in the PCT”, she explains.

“I did a spell in planned care service redesign as an innovation manager. I used all of my pharmacy knowledge and skills, but in service redesign.”

After three years in this role and with PCTs on the verge of being disbanded, Jamieson decided it was time to go. She took redundancy before entering self-employment to undertake consultancy work — work she continues to do part-time.

However, before leaving the NHS, a lifetime interest in cooking and nutrition drew Jamieson back to university in 2011 to complete another MSc — this time in nutritional medicine at the University of Surrey.

“I’ve always been interested in prevention, holistic care and lifestyle, and I’ve always had an interest in nutrition for managing health in general, but I thought I needed to take it somewhere a little bit more formal instead of just a hobby,” she says.

The MSc that Jamieson chose was specifically aimed at doctors, pharmacists and dietitians, and required a level of knowledge of physiology, pharmacology and basic, degree-level science.

Unfortunately, in April 2014 and in the final stages of her course, Jamieson fell seriously ill.

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