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First NIHR Biomedical Research Centre Experimental Medicine Summer School

Developing the Future Leaders in Experimental Medicine

 June 17th and 18th 2010

The first NIHR Biomedical Research Centre Summer School took place in June.  It was attended by nearly 70 doctoral students from NIHR Biomedical Research Centres and took place over two days at Ashridge Business School in Hertfordshire.  The aim of the School was to provide delegates with advice and information about developing their experimental medicine research career. 

Delegates were mentored, in small groups, by experienced health researchers throughout the Summer School:

v                 Prof. Gary Frost                   v                 Dr. Carmine Pariante

v                 Dr. Louise Howard                v                 Dr. Julie Daniels

v                 Prof. Julia Newton                 v                 Prof. John Iredale

v                 Prof. Ashley Adamson          v                 Dr. Stuart Cook

v                 Dr. Tony Gordon                   v                 Dr. Nicholas Hart

v                 Professor David Jones           v                 Dr. Waljit Dhillo

The first day was chaired by Professor Jim Neilson, Dean of NIHR Trainees.  Delegates were welcomed to the event by Professor David Jones (Newcastle BRC) and Dr. Waljit Dhillo (Imperial College London BRC) who had led the planning of the event.  

Professor John Atherton led an interactive session that explored ‘Why Experimental Medicine?’ engaging delegates in discussion about why they had chosen their career path.  Delegates then split along professional lines for breakout sessions led by the NIHR Training Coordinating Centre to discuss their career structure and management.  Each breakout group was joined by an experienced researcher who could draw on their own career to illustrate the sessions.  Professor John Iredale (University of Edinburgh) and Dr James Fenton (NIHR TCC) led the breakout session for clinical academics, Dr. Waljit Dhillo (Imperial College London BRC) and Dr. Isabelle de Wouters (NIHR TCC) led the group for researchers from non-medical backgrounds and Professor Gary Frost (Imperial College London BRC) and Jo Powell (NIHR TCC) led the group of Allied Health Professional, Nurses and Midwives.

The afternoon began with a presentation by Professor David Adams (University of Birmingham) who discussed the opportunities and obstacles a translational medicine career brought for him.   

A condition of a place at the Summer School was that all of the delegates submitted an abstract for either oral or poster presentations. Three delegates -  Dr Clemens Lange (Moorefields BRC), Dr Radha Ramachandran (Imperial College BRC) and Victoria Watson (Liverpool BRC) - were choose to speak at the School and received highly commended awards from Professor Dame Sally Davies prior to the Summer School Dinner with Dr. Ramachandran receiving the best oral presentation prize.

In addition 25 delegates presented posters.  Lauren Megan James (Moorefields BRC) was presented with the best poster prize while Andrew Swale (Liverpool BRC) and Chris Elliot (Newcastle BRC) received ‘highly commended’ prizes for their posters.  

The second day was chaired by Dr. David Cox, Deputy Director Research Faculty from the Department of Health.  Professor Steve Bloom (Imperial College London) spoke about the importance of working with industry and the gains that can be made by both industry and academics.

The delegates then split into four breakout sessions which discussed managing the challenges of a successful research career. Professor Julia Newton (Newcastle University) facilitated a group entitled ‘Is a Research Career More challenging for women in Science?’. Professor David Jones (Newcastle BRC) led a session on ‘Taking Alternative Career Routes: What is Plan B?’  George Binney (Ashridge Business School) led a session on ‘Self Preservation: How to look after yourself enough to be successful as a researcher’.  A final session ‘How to Find and get the most from a Mentor’ was led by Dr. Nigel Eady (Academy of Medical Sciences) and Dr. John Iredale (University of Edinburgh). 

The group came back together again to here a presentation on ‘Research that Impacts: How to communicate the value of your research to a non-research audience’ by  Robin Banerji (Dept. of Health) and Dr Ruairidh Milne (NIHR Evaluations, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre).  This was an interactive session about the importance of how to get research reported appropriately in the media.  

The Closing Address was given by Professor Dame Sally Davies who explained how important research trainees are to the future success of NIHR and urged the delegates to take the opportunities the School had given them and forge a successful research career.


 Photographs from the Summer School