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SPARC case studies

 

Contents

Round 5


Name: Clarissa Giebel

Quote: “This scheme has greatly helped me to set up a working collaboration with one of the leading dementia researchers in the country, and has helped strengthen my CV”

What I did:

Home Institution: NIHR CLAHRC North West Coast

Placement host: NIHR CLAHRC North Thames

Placement title: “Learning about dementia care interventions and their development processes”

  • Gained knowledge and skills in the development of a non-pharmacological interventions in dementia
  • Gained knowledge and experience of working with public advisers with lived or caring experiences of dementia; ensuring that the fellowship project addresses the needs of those affected by dementia
  • Development of a post-doctoral fellowship application
  • Presented a seminar as part of the UCL Department of Psychiatry series.


Its impact:

  • Made many new connections with fellow dementia researchers and gained a greater understanding of the various projects they are involved with.
  • Developed a strong collaboration with UCL and currently working on another funded study (looking at COVID-19 and dementia social care) and exploring further avenues of funding.
  • Developed further collaborations with the Dementia Care Research unit at the University of Bradford.

Outputs:

  • Development and submission of an Alzheimer’s Society Fellowship application.
  • Co-author on two academic publications.

Name: Lu Ban

Quote: “The placement has had a great impact on my personal and professional development”

What I did:

Home Institution: Nottingham BRC

Placement host: NIHR Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Gastrointestinal Infections at the University of Oxford

Placement title: “Learning Health Economics Principles and Methods to Identify Disease Specific Costs in E-health Data”

  • Gained knowledge and experience in the principles and methods of health economics research; in particular conducting health economics analysis using the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD - UK electronic primary care database).
  • Exchanged research ideas with colleagues from the Health Economics Research Centre (HERC) at the Nuffield Department of Population Health.
    Its impact:
  • Applied learning to a real world example which will potentially lead to a high impact peer-reviewed journal publication in the future.
  • Placement provided a prestigious platform to network and collaborate with other colleagues working in the health economics and GI disease areas.

Outputs:

  • Developed a detailed research proposal examining the healthcare utilisations and costs for coeliac disease using CPRD data.

Name: Daniel Stow

Quote: “It’s a brilliant opportunity, especially for junior researchers, to experience a new work environment, network with other people in your field”

What I did:

Home Institution: NIHR School for Primary Care Research

Placement host: CLAHRC South London

Placement title: “Exploring contemporary issues in palliative and end of life care for older people”

  • Collaborated with researchers at the Cicely Saunder’s Institute (King’s College London) to explore the relationship between frailty, emergency admissions and symptoms at the end of life using data collected as part of an international mortality follow back study.
  • Attended institute wide meetings and seminars and learned about ongoing studies at the institute, and improved understanding of the field of palliative and end of life care.
  • Gained knowledge and experience in PPIE work ongoing at the institute including ‘the departure lounge’ (aimed at encouraging a national conversation about death and dying).
  • Presented progress on the work carried out as part of the SPARC placement to one of the regular research group meetings and received good feedback on progress, as well as important feedback on the presentation style.


Its impact:

  • Increased awareness of several advances in the management of free text information in healthcare records pioneered by NHSX/digital at King’s College Hospital.
  • Met with senior members of staff at the institute and gained valuable insights as to the future of research in the field.
  • Rapidly learning about the structure of a new dataset improved my confidence and ability to use R Markdown, and ‘Broom’ – packages for producing reproducible reports.
  • Exposed to a new study design (mortality followback) and learning new analytic techniques (Poisson Regression with robust standard errors).
  • Experiencing a new working environment, with a different management structure and different ‘feel’ to my home institution was an incredibly valuable experience.
  • Discussed the potential for future collaborations with members of the pan NIHR ARC on Palliative and End of Life Care group, as well as researchers at the Cicely Saunder’s Institute.The visit improved confidence in reporting research findings to a wider audience.
  • Cemented an interest in pursuing a career as a researcher focusing on end of life/palliative care.


Outputs:

  • Development of PPI engagement work focussed around “departure lounge” materials in collaboration with researchers and clinicians in the North East Unfortunately, this has been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic and currently preparing manuscripts for publication focussed around the placement activities.

Name: Cemsel Bafligil

Quote: “Be sure to talk to people, the training leads and coordinators and supervisors in both home and host institutions, and the NIHR team are great source of information.”

What I did:

Home Institution: Manchester BRC

Placement host: Cambridge BRC

Placement title: “Utilising genomics data for early detection of endometrial cancer”

  • Gained knowledge and skills in all aspects of data analysis, from cleaning up the raw data to modelling a polygenic risk scoring system for prediction of endometrial cancer.
  • Gained knowledge and skills in manipulating and analysing data using complex commands in R, Linux shell and specialist software such as ShapeIt and Imputev2.
  • Observed the genotyping process and gained a better understanding of the key steps; as well as undertaking targeted and untargeted GWAS analysis.
  • Gained knowledge and experience in basic computer programming.
  • Attended meetings and presentations, and discussed the next steps for my project with academics that have vast expertise in the field.


Its impact:

  • Able to independently continue analysing data and perform the future computational steps for the project.
  • Gained a deeper understanding of the project and the data and how to best make use of it.
  • Gained greater confidence in applying for a bioinformatics/computational biology position.


Outputs:

  • The results generated during this placement will be used to derive a polygenic risk score (PRS) for endometrial cancer for the first time, the results of which will published in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Established a new collaboration with the ECAC (Endometrial Cancer Association Consortium).
  • Data obtained during the placement will be subsequently added onto the next meta-GWAS, which will be published in the coming years (including authorship on the paper).


Name: Shazmin Majid

Quote: “My SPARC placement has had a profound effect on my research training and CV”

What I did:

Home Institution: Nottingham BRC

Placement host: Maudsley BRC

Placement title: “Digital technology for mental health disorders: understanding RADAR-CNS (Remote Assessment of Disease and Relapse - Central Nervous System)”

  • Participated in shadowing opportunities and learned how to involve patients and members of the public into studies.
  • Familiarised with the technical aspects of RADAR-CNS.

Its impact:

  • Gained knowledge, skills and experience in RADAR-CNS; in particular embedding the RADAR-CNS database as a data collection tool in my PhD studies;
  • Established key relationships with industry which led to a 3-month funded internship opportunity as a Clinical Technology Research Intern at Merck Sharp & Dohme IT Hub in Prague after SPARC placement.


Outputs:

  • Possible publications.

 

Name: Lauren Ramsey

Quote: “I was able to develop skills which were directly transferable to my PhD and enhanced my CV.”

What I did:

Home Institution: Yorkshire and Humber PSTRC

Placement host: CLAHRC South London

Placement title: “Exploring how online patient feedback is situated within the wider patient experience landscape using novel qualitative methodological approaches”

  • Established new links with key researchers in the field and mutually beneficial knowledge exchange activities.
  • Obtained methodological support and training from experienced ethnographers working in patient experience research.
  • Organised and delivered the full day workshop with 12 attendees which enabled experienced researchers to discuss, support and give practical advice around using the novel method of dramaturgical analysis in patient feedback research.


Its impact:

  • Increasing confidence in using ethnographic methods, support in dramaturgical analysis from an expect in the field; which resulted in refining a PhD protocol based on the expert advice I received during my placement.
  • Building relationships with colleagues within the NIHR Infrastructure provided an ongoing opportunity at the Yorkshire and Humber PSTRC to continue sharing expertise and collaborate.

Outputs:

  • Dissemination of the methodological workshop via the Yorkshire and Humber PSTRC newsletter, the South London CLAHRC newsletter and the South London
    CLAHRC blog.

 

Name: Abigail Albutt

Quote: “SPARC provides a great opportunity for primary data collection, creating a lasting and fruitful collaboration between the awardee and their host.”

What I did:

Home Institution: Yorkshire and Humber PSTRC

Placement host: University of Leicester (wider NIHR linked NIHR RfPB programme funding)

Placement length: January - February 2020

Placement title: “Exploration and comparison of the adapted Patient Wellness Questionnaire for paediatrics and the Paediatric Observation Priority Score (POPS)”

  • Conducted research study and explored the implementation and use of the Patient Wellness Questionnaire for Paediatrics (PWQP) in practice. The PWQP was adapted from the Patient Wellness
  • Questionnaire for adults developed during my PhD
  • Observed the data collection process during assessments with parents and children to have contextual knowledge of the data and an understanding of implementation issues.
  • Conducted interviews with nurses to explore their experiences of using the tool in practice.
  • Got involved in clinical training such as simulations with junior doctors and shadowed a play specialist for an evening to see how their role supports the quality and safety of care.


Its impact:

  • Gained experience of working and conducting research in a new health setting with doctors and nurses in a paediatric emergency department,
  • Gained a greater understanding of whether parents perceptions and expertise can be incorporated and support staff in the early detection of, and response to, clinical deterioration in the emergency care setting.
  • Gained an in-depth understanding of whether the PWQP could be embedded and potentially enhance current practice.
  • Developed personal and professional development skills; including communication and networking skills


Outputs:

  • Published a blog on the Yorkshire and Humber Patient Safety Translational Research Centre website related to my SPARC placement experience.

Round 4

 

Name: Robert Pierzycki

“This was a very productive time and a successful placement. It also opened up new career opportunities for me. I’d definitely recommend this scheme to my colleagues.”

 

What I did:

Placement host: Manchester BRC

Placement date: April – May 2018

Placement title: “Advancing collaborations, methodological expertise and high-impact publication output towards establishing leadership in a personal research area.”

 

  • Learned to program, process, visualise and analyse data in R statistical package.
  • Learned methods for the analyses of epidemiological data.
  • Studied materials from the ‘Hearing Loss’ module at the University of Manchester, supported by course tutors.
  • Observed the clinical management of patients and discussed their experiences of living with profound and unilateral hearing loss.
  • Identified research questions and developed analysis codes.
  • Presented at a ManCad (Manchester Centre for Audiology and Deafness) research seminar.

Its impact:

  • Developing new methodological skills which will be invaluable in future research projects.
  • Invited to a new collaboration between the Manchester Auditory Brainstem Implantation service and the Nottingham BRC.
  • Becoming a named collaborator on UK Biobank projects with the Manchester BRC.
  • Establishing myself as a lead researcher in the epidemiology of hearing loss at the Nottingham BRC.
  • Leading external collaborations for future projects, including predicting outcomes for cochlear implantation for tinnitus.
  • Moving towards becoming a more senior and independent researcher, leading to new grant applications and papers.

Outputs:

  • Completing papers on epidemiology and the impact of single-sided deafness and inter-aural asymmetry in hearing function for high-impact journals.

 

Name: Naoimh McMahon

“The placement provided an excellent opportunity to get to know and work with a new team.”

 What I did:

Placement host: NIHR School for Public Health Research

Placement date: April – May 2018

Placement title: “Putting theory into practice: A short placement with Fuse, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health.”

  •  Worked with a new team with a specific focus on public health.
  • Met public health specialists who combine research expertise and practical skills in different public health settings.
  • Led an umbrella review of systematic reviews on prevention and harm reduction interventions for gambling and related harm.
  • Prepared the manuscript of findings as primary author.
  • Attended the Fuse@10 celebration event and a Fuse Quarterly Research Meeting on interventions related to diet and alcohol for young people.

Its impact:

  • Opportunities to network and collaborate with international experts in knowledge translation in public health.
  • Establishing relationships to facilitate future collaborative partnerships, including funding proposals.
  • Learned a new evidence synthesis technique (the umbrella review).
  • Received feedback on my writing style from senior academics.

Outputs:

  • A manuscript in preparation for an addiction focused journal.
  • Future funding proposals.


Name: Laura Swaithes

“Learning from others was a central part of the placement and I was able to contribute to other PhD students' work and share my knowledge and skills.”

 What I did:

Placement host: Wider NIHR (Centre for Clinical and Health Research, UWE Bristol)

Placement date: June 2018 – February 2019

Placement title: “Broadening horizons of knowledge mobilisation in primary care.”

  •  Gained a different perspective on knowledge mobilisation (KM)
  • Completed a Masters module in KM.
  • Spent time with a range of experts.
  • Worked closely with public health colleagues and gained exposure to real-time evidence and evaluation challenges within an NHS commissioning environment.
  • Worked with teams using different approaches to implementation research.
  • Organised and hosted a national KM event, at which I presented my PhD work.

Its impact:

  • Enhanced my skills in evaluation and service-informed research.
  • Significantly enhanced my professional networks.
  • Shaped earlier chapters of my thesis, developed my thinking about the theoretical perspectives of my work and enhanced my critical evaluation skills.
  • Broadened my knowledge of KM in the real world and encouraged me to consider innovative ways of getting KM into primary care practice.
  • Informed the development of our new team strategy.
  • Bolstered my CV in several areas, including training, publications, skills and grant applications.
  • Developed my area of expertise and professional identity.

Outputs:

  • Hosting a national KM event.
  • Sharing placement outputs at local training events and national conferences.
  • Collaboration on two (submitted) grant applications – one with the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) and the other for the Versus Arthritis Pushing Frontiers award.
  • The preparation of a manuscript for publication in a peer reviewed journal (in progress).
  • Collaboration on an NIHR Advanced Fellowship application - in progress.

Name: Doug Hardman

“I have new skills and experience and the confidence to build networks with programmes outside my current institution. I would really encourage people to apply!”

 What I did:

Placement host: NIHR School for Primary Care Research, University of Oxford

Placement date: October 2018 – January 2019

Placement title: “Empathy in general practice: an exploration of ethnographic data.”

 What I did:

  • Gained a better understanding of the Oxford Empathy Programme and its scope of work.
  • Worked on two projects.
  • Considered how to refine the proposed project to ensure the data collected was appropriate.
  • Decided to explore empathy in the wider context of person-centred care in general practice to inform the ethnographic data.
  • Conducted an exploration of empathy using existing ethnographic data.
  • Researched the relationship between therapeutic empathy and person-centred care, and the ethics of empathy.

Its impact:

  • Gained a better understanding of the Oxford Empathy Programme and its scope of work.
  • Worked on two projects.
  • Considered how to refine the proposed project to ensure the data collected was appropriate.
  • Decided to explore empathy in the wider context of person-centred care in general practice to inform the ethnographic data.
  • Conducted an exploration of empathy using existing ethnographic data.
  • Researched the relationship between therapeutic empathy and person-centred care, and the ethics of empathy.

Outputs:

  • A peer reviewed journal publication.
  • Ongoing collaborations.
  • Future peer reviewed publications.

 

Name: Gemma Spiers

“It has added another dimension to my developing areas of expertise and research interests.”

 What I did:

Placement host: Personal Social Services Research Unit, NIHR School for Social Care Research (PSSRU, SSCR), London School of Economics

Placement date: June 2018 – March 2019

Placement title: “Exploring the interface between health and social care research in the NIHR Schools.”

  •  Met with key experts in the fields of social care research to discuss respective research interests.
  • A critical scoping review of measures of socioeconomic status in older populations.
  • Attended a seminar about the determinants of wellbeing in England.
  • Attended a lecture about healthy ageing in low socioeconomic groups.
  • Gave a seminar about my PhD research.

Its impact:

  • Learning about the broader landscape of social care research and the work carried out by the PSSRU, SSCR.
  • Developing a deeper understanding of the approaches to measuring wealth in older populations that were then applied to my PhD research.
  • Making links for future research opportunities.
  • Gaining invaluable feedback on my research.
  • Adding another dimension to developing areas of expertise and research interests.

Outputs:

  • An additional chapter within my PhD thesis.
  • A manuscript for submission to a peer reviewed journal.
  • Links for future collaborations.

 

Name: Mark Turner

“The placement and collaborations have had a significant (and long-term) impact upon my research, training and CV.” 

What I did:

Placement host: Oxford Health BRC

Placement date: August – October 2018

Placement title: “Investigating the effects of ectopic fat deposition on lipid metabolism in human hepatocyte and skeletal muscle cells using stable isotope methodologies.”

  •  Conducted experiments using an in vitro liver model to investigate the effects of carbohydrate mixtures (glucose and fructose) upon de novo lipogenesis.
  • Used stable isotopes (heavy water) to investigate if the exposure to fatty acids would affect the lipid profile in human skeletal muscle cells.
  • Developed a method for investigating hepatocyte gluconeogenesis.
  • Developed an immunolabelling protocol for imaging proteins which are important regulators of lipid droplet formation.

Its impact:

  • Gained insights into lipid partitioning in hepatocytes cultured with glucose and fructose.
  • Development of a more physiological in vitro skeletal muscle model.
  • Learnt and used a new technique (stable isotope tracers and mass spectrometry) to investigate lipid metabolism in cell culture models.
  • Broadened the scope of analysis to apply to my own research.
  • Expanded my skills through Involvement with other projects.
  • Made long-term collaborations within a well-established and reputable research group and institution.

Outputs:

  • Further experiments to investigate trends in skeletal muscle cell data.
  • Potential publication as an independent body of work or in conjunction with other experiments conducted within the group.
  • Potential publication of the data within a short-communication.
  • Potential joint grant application.

Name: Rhiannon Macefield

“The scheme has been a fantastic opportunity to establish and strengthen collaborations between BRCs, and an excellent opportunity for professional development for an early career researcher.”

 What I did:

Placement host: Manchester BRC/CLAHRC Greater Manchester/NIHR Cochrane Wounds

Placement date: April 2018 – April 2019

Placement title: “Developing advanced evidence synthesis skills to inform rapid and focused surgical innovation: a training placement between the Bristol BRC (Surgical Innovation theme) and the Manchester BRC (Dermatology theme), Greater Manchester CLAHRC and Cochrane Wounds.”

  •  Worked on a priority update Cochrane systematic review on tissue adhesives for the closure of surgical wounds.
  • Received advanced, one to one guidance and specialist training in systematic reviewing skills (including GRADE assessment and the use of Cochrane-related software systems).
  • Spent protected time working at the Wounds Research Group at the University of Manchester.
  • Completed an online interactive Cochrane learning course in ‘Conducting an Intervention Review’.

Its impact:

  • Consolidated and broadened existing knowledge in wound research, including wound closure methods, trial design and methodology.
  • Enhanced my skills in conducting evidence syntheses and systematic reviews.
  • Broadened knowledge of ongoing work and projects relevant to wound care and innovation in another research group and institution.
  • Strengthened and built collaborations with colleagues.
  • Provided an opportunity to establish new independent collaborations with other experts in wound care, including an invitation to join the National Wound Care Strategy Programme as a member of the Surgical and Research Enabler work streams.
  • Received lots of great advice relevant to my own research and future career

Outputs:

  • Generated data for the updated Cochrane systematic review on tissue adhesives for the closure of surgical wounds
  • Future publication on completion of the review
  • Development of a collaborative piece for the Manchester and Bristol BRC newsletters / websites.
  • Continued collaboration beyond the official placement period in shared areas of interest in innovation and wound research.
  • Developed ideas for a future grant application.

 

Name: David Lunn

“Having this experience will help me in my future career endeavours when leading teams.”

 What I did:

Placement host: Newcastle BRC

Placement date: September 2018 – January 2019

Placement title: “New measurement techniques and use of a pre-existing data set to evaluate functional outcomes of patients.”

  •  Spent 5 weeks at Newcastle BRC
  • Assisted in collecting gait data from patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease and healthy controls.
  • Began to understand the impact of cognition and attention on gait performance.
  • Formulated a research question.
  • Learned a new statistical analysis technique and used it to analyse the data.

Its impact:

  • Learned new assessment techniques to allow me to evaluate patients in a more holistic way.
  • Broadened my knowledge of and skills in data collection, processing and analysis for the benefit of future research proposals.
  • Enhanced my CV beyond the grant income of a competitive award.
  • Demonstrated how different research team structures can work.

Outputs:

  • Presenting my own and the wider BRC’s research at research seminars.
  • Preparing an abstract for international conference presentation.
  • Potential for a future a manuscript for publication in a peer reviewed journal.

 

 Name: Mable Nakubulwa

“The support I received made learning a more positive experience.”

 What I did:

Placement host: CLAHRC West Midlands

Placement date: July 2018 – February 2019

Placement title: “Exploring methods of evaluating the impact of complex service delivery interventions in health care.”

  •  Worked with a colleague to develop new statistical approaches to evaluate a complex healthcare intervention.
  • Pre-processed the data ready for analysis.
  • Explored ways of visually presenting the data to determine patterns before building models for further computation.
  • Began to build models for the computation (regression modelling approach).

Its impact:

  • Broadening my knowledge and understanding of data cleaning and pre-processing, specifically around missing data.
  • Gaining unique programming skills and proficiencies in novel data visualisation.
  • Developing skills in breaking down complex research questions for computational purposes.
  • Establishing and developing a collaboration with another CLAHRC.
  • Developing my research network for dissemination of research results.
  • Increasing my confidence in evaluating big datasets.
  • Ongoing collaborations.

Outputs:

  • Preparing a manuscript for publication in a peer reviewed journal, once computational modelling is complete
  • Disseminating the results at future collaborative meetings and conferences.

 

Name: James Fullam

“The knowledge I gained regarding intervention development has been extremely valuable in my new role, and continues to shape and guide my practice as a researcher.”

 What I did:

Placement host: Centre for Rehabilitation Research in Oxford (cRRIO)

Placement date: June 2018 – December 2018

Placement title: “Randomised Controlled Trials: Inception to Implementation.”

  •  Gained knowledge about the types of pragmatic randomised controlled trials that take place at cRRIO, and how to develop and conduct large RCTs in musculoskeletal rehabilitation.
  • Participated in trial update meetings and learned how to review trial documentation regarding intervention development.
  • Assisted in the development of training materials for ongoing trials of behaviour change and physical activity in patients with hip and knee replacements.
  • Had in-depth meetings with a variety of researchers, trial coordinators, senior trial investigators and other staff from the Oxford Clinical Trials research unit, discussing their work and how their practice could be applied to my own projects.

Its impact:

  • Learned about structure and design elements that need to be addressed in the planning phases of complex interventions.
  • Improved my skills in developing intervention manuals and protocols and implementing them in real world settings.
  • Gained knowledge about psychological and behavioural change mechanisms integrated into modern complex interventions.
  • The valuable knowledge and experience gained through the placement was instrumental in securing a post-doctoral researcher position at the Centre for Environment and Human Health at University of Exeter.
  • Gained an enhanced network of contacts.

Outputs:

Planned future collaboration with one of my placement co-supervisors, focussed on the development phase of a trial.

Round 3

Name: Petra Gronholm

HOME: Health Services and Population Research Department, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London

HOST FOR EXCHANGE: Imperial Patient Experience Research Centre (PERC), NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Imperial College London

What I Did:

  • Conducted independent research examining patients’ experience of care, specifically the role of psychosocial support during early patient journeys for people with breast cancer and HIV
  • This work a) examined similar questions to those in my PhD research, but within a different medical setting and patient group; b) built on methodological skills developed during my PhD research
  • I was fully integrated into my host research group, joining team meetings, departmental seminars, and the NIHR Imperial BRC open day. I also attended feedback sessions disseminating research findings to past and current patients and staff

Its Impact:

  • Conceptually, the exchange facilitated a broader perspective of the questions I examined in my PhD by situating these in a different context
  • Methodologically, the exchange enhanced my research skills (secondary data analysis of qualitative data, group-based analysis techniques)
  • In terms of other professional and personal development, I established collaborations with colleagues outside my home institution, had opportunities to promote my work and expertise to a new audience, and could demonstrate an adaptable working style and the ability to integrate well into a new research team and a different institutional culture

Outputs:

  • Continued collaboration following my official period with the exchange research group
  • Sharing work via departmental presentations
  • Involvement in consultations regarding future work, due to my unique position to comment on cross-cutting elements of these data

 

Name: Kate Greenwell

HOME: NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre

HOST FOR EXCHANGE: NIHR School of Primary Care Research

What I Did:

  • Collaborated with researchers to develop an online intervention to support self-management in tinnitus (‘Tinnitus E-Programme 2.0’).
  • Received one-to-one training on how to use LifeGuide, intervention development software developed by the University.
  • Attended interesting and educational school seminars which were on a variety of health-related topics.
  • Met with several experienced researchers for valuable advice on intervention development and evaluation, and pursuing a career in e-health and health psychology.

Its Impact:

  • Enabled me to develop valuable skills in digital intervention development and evaluation.
  • Ability to develop the intervention in just three months, which would otherwise have been considerably longer and more challenging without the training and support I received.
  • Led on to a Research Fellow position in the digital health interventions team at the University.

Outputs:

  • Developed an online self-management intervention that will be tested in future research.
  • Link established several collaborations between NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre and the NIHR School of Primary Care Research, including grant applications and peer-reviewed publications.

 

Name: Kathryn Frackrell

HOME: NIHR Nottingham Hearing Biomedical Research Unit, Ropewalk House

HOST FOR EXCHANGE: Leeds Musculoskeletal Biomedical Research Unit, Chapel Allerton Hospital, Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust, Leeds

What I Did:

  • Spent a month at the BRU and Leeds Psychometric Laboratory to learn about musculoskeletal conditions and measurement.
  • Competed 6 days formal training on Rasch analysis and modelling
  • Supplemented training with one-on-one sessions analysing my data using Rasch modelling statistics and specialised software
  • Observed PPI in action

Its Impact:

  • Gained valuable new knowledge and experience with measurement and complex statistics
  • Enhanced my PhD through applying new skills to validate a tinnitus questionnaire
  • Presented work at international conferences (European Conference on Psychological Assessment and International Tinnitus Research Initiative)
  • Apply training to support staff in my unit to develop and evaluate hearing questionnaires.
  • Secured a post-doctoral research fellow position in Tinnitus running an international project on tinnitus outcome measurement

Outputs:

  • Plans for collaboration with Professor Anne Marie Keenan at Leeds
  • Co-authored publication with Mike Horton (a Rasch whizz)
  • Apply Rasch analysis to validate available data from other tinnitus and hearing questionnaires

 

Name: Thomas Cowling


HOME: Imperial College London

HOST FOR EXCHANGE: University of Cambridge

What I Did:

  • Conducted qualitative analysis of government and parliamentary documents using research methods that were new to me.
  • Had one-to-one meetings with senior colleagues to learn about their areas of research and broaden my knowledge.
  • Participated in research group meetings and social events and attended talks by researchers across the university.
  • I felt I was part of the research team which provided a great learning experience and good memories.

Its Impact:

  • Gained feedback from my exchange supervisor who collaborated in application for an NIHR Post Doctoral Fellowship and is a good source of career advice.
  • Have a new connection that would probably not have happened otherwise.
  • Developed new qualitative and policy research skills during the exchange, which benefitted the sections of my PhD focused on policy analysis.
  • Improved my CV, as the host department is particularly well regarded in my field of research.
  • Allowed me to grow personally and professionally.

Outputs:

  • Continuing to work with my exchange supervisor on the research.
  • An opportunity for a publication once the research has progressed further.

 

Name: Jennifer Cooper

HOME: Warwick Medical School, Division of Health Sciences

HOST FOR EXCHANGE: University of Birmingham Primary Care Division

What I Did:

  • I developed a risk prediction model for use in colorectal cancer screening referral decisions using The Health Improvement Network (THIN) database which is a large dataset of anonymised GP records holding data for >12 million patients.
  • This individualised model combined the screening test with other risk factors such as symptoms, routine test results, diagnoses and demographic information with an aim of improving test accuracy.
  • I also carried out a methodological study as part of this research identifying acceptable dates for bowel cancer screening electronic notifications for quality assurance purposes.
  • THIN is a rich database, requiring considerable expertise for data extraction and analysis and also requires a sublicense which only a handful of Universities possess.

Its Impact:

  • Research collaboration with the University of Birmingham and Health Informatics Team.
  • Expert advice, one to one sessions on using THIN and group meetings for future studies.
  • I have learnt to analyse a large and complex GP database and at the same time learnt to use another stats package for this purpose (Stata).
  • I developed methods of extracting Read code lists, Drug code lists and Additional Health Data (blood tests etc) which could be used for future studies.
  • I have broadened my knowledge on study design considerations when using electronic health records for research.
  • The IDTE was good experience and practice for writing a grant application but on a smaller scale since you write a study protocol, budget plan, timelines, training plans and create collaborations with experts/host organisations.

Outputs:

  • In the process of writing a methodological paper using THIN which identifies when each practice begins to accept bowel cancer screening electronic notifications. This can be used for data quality assurance purposes. I will also submit a further paper for the main study which has developed a risk prediction model for colorectal cancer screening referral.
  • The interconnections between GP databases and the bowel cancer screening system could be utilised further to obtain additional information on risk for screening patients in the future.

Name: Louit Thakuria

HOME: The Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust – NIHR Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit

HOST FOR EXCHANGE: The Southampton Centre for Biomedical Research – NIHR Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit

What I Did:

  • Gained unique experience in novel mass spectrometry techniques.
  • In vivo labelling of lung transplant recipients to assess the dynamic changes in surfactant biology in perioperative lung injury
  • Processed 1465 patient samples, performed 4,395 ESI-MS/MS scans.
  • Learnt how to process and interpret mass spectra
  • Developed new collaborative relationships with other researchers who were based in Southampton
  • Successful application for funding and now formally supervising a PhD student through the development of a questionnaire and teaching her what I learnt through this exchange

Its Impact:

  • Developed new laboratory skills that were essential for my PhD thesis
  • Received exceptional support and supervision
  • Built my confidence in the laboratory (which is important for clinicians with little prior lab experience)
  • Generated multiple international presentations

Outputs:

  • Publications in preparation, and already planning follow-up projects

 

Name: Angelos Bakogiannis

HOME: CLAHRC Northwest Coast University of Central Lancashire (UCLan)

HOST FOR EXCHANGE: CLAHRC Northwest Coast Lancaster University

What I Did:

  • I attended a postgraduate taught module on Discourse Studies (not available at UCLan) that included sessions on multimodal discourse analysis, the main methodological approach of the research project I am working on.
  • I worked under the mentorship of Professor E. Semino, an expert in cancer discourse and took advantage of a wide pool of resources available on the subject.
  • I also had the chance to attend a series of training workshops on selecting and using software for qualitative data analysis and liaise with colleagues from the Division of Health Research working on public health, health inequalities and cancer being part of the School of Public Health Research, NIHR CLAHRC NWC and the Lancaster and Liverpool Universities Collaboration for Public Health Research (LiLac).

Its Impact:

  • The exchange programme broadened my knowledge of linguistics, allowing me space to pursue work on health communication and, thus, integrate linguistics into the study of health promotion and public health, and added to my skills as a qualitative researcher.
  • It gave me the chance to establish a good network with colleagues from different scientific disciplines working on diverse but complementary areas (cancer discourse, health inequalities, public health) based at different institutions and/or organisations.

Outputs:

  • During the programme I had the chance to complete the first part of the analysis of the project I am working on.
  • The evidence produced through this work will be translated into an original article intended for publication and disseminated via presentations at national and/or international conferences and/or other events given the right opportunity.
  • Overall, the NIHR IDTE Scheme is quite a challenging but valuable programme that all PhD Trainees should apply for and despite its competitive nature I can now say (that I have been through the whole experience) that it is definitely worth the time!

 

Name: John Ford

HOME: University of East Anglia, East of England CLAHRC

HOST FOR EXCHANGE: School of Primary Care, University College London

What I Did:

  • Developed a research question and protocol aimed at identifying groups of older service users
  • Analysed a large dataset to answer my research question, using a technique called latent class analysis
  • Presented the results at a national conference and published them in a peer review journal
  • Discussed my NIHR Doctoral Research Fellowship with lots of people which helped develop my own research
  • Built collaborations with lots of different academics

Its Impact:

  • I’ve learnt how to do latent class analysis.
  • Gained more experience in study design and publishing
  • Received lots of good advice and ideas about my own research.
  • Gained other perspectives on thinking through different issues.

Outputs:

  • Disseminated the during an oral presentation at the Society of Academic Primary Care Conference 2016.
  • Published the findings in BMC Health Services Research