Jirawat Suksamosorn (aka “Mod”) is an HPTN 083 community liaison at the Silom Community Clinic CRS in Bangkok. Mod has the critical role of connecting study teams to community partners and key stakeholders to ensure essential input and support of research and increase mutual understanding for the successful conduct of research trials. He brings to his work an extraordinary commitment to enhancing community engagement. In his own words, he has the core value that “making community voices heard will result in improved research through community involvement.” Mod has been working at the CRS for seven years. Previously, Mod worked at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)/Regional Development Mission/Asia, as an administrative associate in the Infectious Diseases Team, Office of Public Health and served as project coordinator, Global AIDS Program (GAP), Bureau of Policy and Strategy, Ministry of Public Health.
What attracted you to a career in HIV prevention research?
I am passionate about helping people and making a difference in their lives. Our work and actions have a significant and positive impact on the quality of life of the people in Thailand. HIV/AIDS is a global public health issue that has a considerable effect on the community. I have been very fortunate to work for organizations in public health and be a part of the work of HPTN. I am excited to be a part of a worldwide collaborative clinical trials network dedicated to finding new options to prevent HIV and reduce the transmission of HIV.
What aspect of your role do you enjoy the most?
What I like most about this job is fostering a friendly and positive environment that encourages and supports community involvement and engagement in all phases of the research process. We highly encourage our community representatives to participate as partners from the beginning stage of research conduct. We regularly organize and facilitate quarterly Community Advisory Board (CAB) meetings as a learning platform to discuss, share and exchange real-world experiences and opinions. Strengthening our community partners through capacity building and workshops creates leaders in the country and excellent guidance for the site research teams in developing outreach activities, implementing study participant recruitment and retention strategies, and feedback on ethical and operational aspects of study conduct. We work together to benefit the community, not just benefit one organization.
What would you say most motivates you to do what you do?
I am highly motivated by seeing the community happy and engaged. I try to ensure that community partners are listened to and that their voice counts. I usually pay more attention to the present, and by listening to the community and ensuring they are a part of the research, a by-product of the journey is better work. The journey matters more than the destination to me.
What has been one of your proudest moments as a member of the HPTN?
I am very proud to be a part of great teamwork with high standards of clinical trial conduct and superior achievements. For HPTN 083, we successfully enrolled more than 200 participants, higher than the target, and we had the highest average number of participants enrolled per week in Asia (2.7 enrollments per week). We have also maintained leadership in retention. Recruitment and retention in a long-term research trial are challenging. It requires teamwork, commitment, flexibility, responsiveness, and new activities to meet the needs of the target population.
What inspires you?
According to my way of thinking, my view is not to be better than others, but to be better than the old version of myself. I usually start my day with a positive thought that will make my whole day fantastic. I believe in the power of giving. Give to the world the best you can, but expect nothing in return, and the best will come back to you. I find this view allows for my success working collaboratively with our stakeholders in community engagement.
What advice do you have for new members?
It is an excellent opportunity for you to be a new member of the HPTN family to enhance your creative thinking skills and learn new advanced research ideas, diverse perspectives on working together with an expert team of scientists, investigators, and community partners from around the world. Every goal is achievable unless you give up. Do not forget to celebrate your small wins. When you clap for others, you can applaud yourself as many times as you want. Keep smiling and moving forward.