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2020 NIHR ACF PES Oxford Therapeutics or Clinical Pharmacology



2020 NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowship in Priority Research Themes

HEE Local Office: Thames Valley
Medical School: University of Oxford
Research Theme: Therapeutics or Clinical Pharmacology
Specialty Options: Infectious Diseases or Medical Oncology or Rheumatology

Plain English Summary

Oxford has a long history of developing new therapeutics, for example, in the form of new drugs (penicillin/cephalosporins), vaccines, treatments that affect the immune response, radiation treatment, talking therapies, and many more. It is home to a wide range of well-established research institutes that do this work, led by scientists and clinicians of international repute. For example there are six clinical trials units that test whether new therapies and drugs are effective treatments as well as new drug and vaccine target discovery programmes. These facilities provide extraordinarily strong opportunities to develop and train academic doctors in this area of research. In this post the successful applicant from Infectious Diseases, Medical Oncology (treating cancer with drugs), or Rheumatology (treating arthritis, and other disorders of the joints, muscles, and ligaments), will receive world-class training. As the work crosses multiple university departments it provides the opportunity to receive supervision and training from clinical scientists, statisticians, trials experts and digital specialists. Our mentorship programme includes input from peers, colleagues and senior academics, and maximises chances to progress to a PhD fellowship or, if applicable, post-doctoral research funding. Additionally Oxford offers a range of research opportunities tackling the global threat of antimicrobial resistance. Approaches range from therapies to prevent infection, minimising inappropriate use of antibiotics, and projects on a global scale. Examples of interest to Infectious Diseases include:

  • Evaluating changes in antibiotic prescribing resulting from the use of new diagnostic approaches using DNA-based techniques to identify infections.
  • Studies investigating safely reducing antibiotic use in hospitals. Infectious diseases ACFs may also be interested in Vaccinology/Immunisation projects investigating new targets for vaccines, the potential of some vaccines to be used to treat viral infections that are difficult to eliminate or work to develop more effective vaccines e.g. against influenza and tuberculosis.

Medical Oncology ACFs can also become involved in developing vaccines against cancer as well as developing and testing new drugs and combinations of existing drugs to treat cancer.

Other projects of interest include:

  •  Clinical trials of new therapies targeting the immune system
  • Identifying biomarkers (molecules that can be used to predict health and/or disease) to select patients for new drug and immune therapies
  • Studying how the side effects of immune therapy occur to be able to enhance cancer therapy.

In Rheumatology, work focuses on arthritis caused by ‘wear and tear’ (osteoarthritis) of joints as well as other forms of the disease in which the patient’s own immune system attacks their joints. In osteoarthritis, projects investigate originating injuries with the aim of predicting which patients will develop the disease and what early treatments might prevent this progression. In the immune-mediated forms of arthritis, there are effective ‘biologic’ treatments but they do not work in everyone. Studies are designed to compare the immune response in the blood and joints of those patients who benefit and those who do not, in an attempt to derive new strategies to improve outcomes.