Mater Research Celebrates International Nurses Day – meet Clinical Trials Nurse Donna Harvey

Friday 12 May 2023

For Mater Research Clinical Trials Nurse Donna Harvey, finding the answers to unanswered questions is what drew her to working in oncology research.

Donna began her career as a pharmacist, working in both manufacturing and community pharmacy, before deciding to increase her scope of practice by completing a nursing degree.

“I have a unique skill set, of absolute attention to detail from pharmacy, as well as being able to appreciate the broader practicalities of patient care as a nurse. Working in research is brilliant as I can use both my registrations and skillsets,” Donna said.

Donna coordinates the clinical trials that are delivered through Mater Research and the Mater Cancer Care Centre (MCCC), alongside four medical oncologists who run the clinical trials.  

“Within Mater we conduct small Phase One trials which may only have 12 patients worldwide. These trials are designed to prove a new drugs safety and efficacy, all the way through to huge multinational trials that have thousands of participants enrolled.

“Our team’s speciality is breast and gynaecological cancers, and we also treat genitourinary cancers (prostate and bladder). We treat people from diagnosis and throughout all aspects of their care during their most vulnerable time.”

Donna’s role as a clinical trials nurse involves translating the protocol and requirements of the clinical trial to the bedside for our patients.

“All areas of healthcare are on a continual improvement cycle, and research is constantly required. Clinical trials represent progression in medical health and clinical outcomes. In clinical trials, we look after our patients first and foremost, and the data we are gathering is to ensure patients in the future have better outcomes. Without the clinical trials we’re running today, we cannot achieve that.”

“Being in one of our trials means you have access to all of the MCCC services and our multidisciplinary team of specialists, as well as a dedicated clinical trials nurse who is with you at every appointment.”

Donna is proud of Mater Research’s long history of involvement in oncology research, improving the standard of care for patients.

“In oncology 20 years ago, it was all about chemotherapy. We have now moved to immunotherapy. Mater Research has been involved in the development of immunotherapy treatments through conducting clinical trials when they were an experimental therapy, through to their registration and availability on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), to becoming the standard of care.”

Within Mater Research, the Mater Clinical Trials service conducts more than 200 clinical trials within Mater’s clinical disciplines, translating scientific discoveries into medical advances and providing treatment options for patients with unmet needs. 

“In oncology, we aren’t selling hope, but we recognise that giving patients options is really important, which is why clinical trials are vital. Participation in a clinical trial gives patients different opportunities to the standard of care, such as access to new and alternative treatment options.”

“Our clinical trials patients are Mater patients and their involvement in our trials is an additional layer to their care.”

Interested in learning more about the Mater Research Medical Oncology Clinical Trials Team? Click here to view their current trials or contact Donna via email on