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VSA case studies


Published: 21 October 2019

Version: 1

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Katerina Panagaki

Picture of Katerina Panagaki

“In a nutshell the IVSA is an opportunity. It opens doors, it is flexible enough to be as constructive as possible and a great learning experience.”

What I did:

Presented at: CLAHRC West

Talk date: April 2018

Talk title: “How does the social and economic environment affect our mental health? The role of cognitive processes like rumination.”
Number of attendees: 20
Type of audience: CLAHRC members from research associates to more senior levels and including admin staff; clinicians from other institutions

Main outcomes:

  • Established multiple new collaborations and created new bridges and links with other colleagues, relevant currently but also in terms of future career.
  • Exchange of helpful tools & knowledge.
  • Gained a great experience.
  • Training on presentation skills and dissemination (including social media channels like Twitter).


Kate Hallsworth

 Picture of Kate Hallsworth

“The IVSA was an excellent opportunity to showcase myself and my research to potential future collaborators.”

What I did:

Presented at: Birmingham BRC
Talk date: May 2019
Talk title: “Lifestyle interventions in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: What does the evidence say and what should we aim to achieve in the clinical setting?”
Number of attendees: 40
Type of audience: a mix of clinicians (medics, allied health professionals, nurses), basic scientists and clinical trials coordinators

Main outcomes:

  • Increased personal visibility and that of my research work.
  • Knowledge exchange.
  • A high chance of collaborating with members in the audience in the future.
  • Likely inspired some of the AHPs to consider undertaking research as part of their clinical practice and potentially applying to NIHR for funding.

Robert Pierzycki

 Picture of Robert Pierzycki
“The IVSA was an excellent opportunity to showcase myself and my research to potential future collaborators.”

What I did:

Presented at: UCLH BRC

Talk date: February 2019

Talk title: “Cochlear implantation as an intervention for tinnitus in severe to profound hearing loss.”

Number of attendees: 20

Type of audience: research scientists, medical and allied health professionals

Main outcomes:

  • Growing reputation as a leading UK researcher in the area of cochlear implantation and tinnitus.
  • Building network of collaborations to support ongoing and future research.
  • Establishing and leading the Health Informatics Research Group at the Nottingham BRC. This opportunity resulted from growing reputation and collaborations around the work with the UK Biobank resource which was supported by the SPARC and IVSA awards.
  • Establishing collaboration on large-scale projects such as the ongoing projects using the UK Biobank resource at the UCLH BRC.
  • Determined potential areas and ways of collaboration providing extension of the work carried out as part of previous SPARC placement at the Manchester BRC.
  • Increased personal visibility and that of research work in the social media channels like Twitter.
  • Knowledge and expertise exchange with other scientists from the field
  • Gained feedback about current work and ideas for future projects on cochlear implantation and tinnitus from experts in the field.
  • Gained more insight into the grant review process and interests of funding bodies.
  • Initiating new activities strengthening collaboration between BRC Nottingham and BRC UCLH and opening possibilities for discussions about specific future joint projects.


Hywel Williams

 Picture of Hywel Williams

 “In a nutshell the IVSA is a fantastic opportunity to showcase YOUR work to others and make new contact.”

What I did:

Presented at: Manchester BRC

Talk date: March 2018

Talk title: “The need for speed - Rapid diagnosis of PICU patients in 5 days using whole genome sequencing.”

Number of attendees: 40

Type of audience: clinical scientists, clinical geneticists and research academics

Main outcomes:

  • Shared research results and built a collaboration with another group of colleagues.
  • The experience of traveling as an independent researcher and presenting work was a great learning opportunity.
  • Made contacts that will be useful for collaborations in the future.


Nikou Damestani & Emil Ljungberg

Picture of Nikou Damestani  Picture of Emil Ljungberg

“The IVSA is an award that enables academy members to visit other NIHR infrastructures to present their work/host workshops to practise research communication.” & “The IVSA is a development opportunity for PhD students through presenting your work at another institution.”

What I did:

Presented at: Nottingham BRC

Talk date: November 2018

Talk title: “ZTE MRI: fast, functional, quiet and quantitative.”

Number of attendees: 30

Type of audience: scientists from MSc to Professor level; mainly physicists but also a few neuroscientists and psychology students

Main outcomes (Nikou):

  • Gained more confidence in presenting.
  • Identified areas for improvement on presenting research work in a clearer way.
  • Broadened network of contacts.
  • Taking the opportunity to see the research of a different group.

Main outcomes (Emil):

  • Gained communication skills and practicing giving a talk to a new audience.
  • Learned how to prepare a talk and present it in a very clear way in order for the audience to get a good understanding of research work.
  • Increased own awareness of other areas of MRI research.
  • Increased audience’s awareness of own research project which probably hadn't reached them as it is a bit outside of their normal research field.
  • Broadened horizons for possible work/research areas in the future.
  • Networking. 


Joanna Crocker

Picture of Joanna Crocker

“The IVSA is a great opportunity for early-mid career researchers to disseminate their work to a wider audience and build external connections.”

What I did:

Presented at: Bristol BRC

Talk date: January 2019

Talk title: “Developing a patient and public involvement intervention to enhance recruitment and retention in surgical trials (PIRRIST).”

Number of attendees: 30

Type of audience: a mixture of people including researchers, doctoral students, surgical trial staff, academic medical professionals and research nurses

Main outcomes:

  • Winning IVSA award boosted confidence and may help to strengthen future applications for funding.
  • Networking.
  • Established new contacts which may facilitate project dissemination and lead to future collaborations on new research proposals.
  • Feedback received from audience will help in shaping current work and improving the dissemination of PIRRIST project findings.


Kelly Birtwell

 Picture of Kelly Birtwell

“The IVSA was a really valuable opportunity to share my work and get feedback and different perspectives from researchers in a different NIHR School.”

What I did:

Presented at: School for Public Health Research (Sheffield)

Talk date: February 2019

Talk title: “The development of a feasible and acceptable Low-Intensity Mindfulness-Based Intervention to increase wellbeing: a theory-, evidence- and person-based approach.”

Number of attendees: 35

Type of audience: academic researchers, postgraduate students and researchers, healthcare professionals

Main outcomes:

  • Increased confidence in presenting and answering questions from the audience.
  • Developing ideas for the next stages of the research including intervention development, and which journals the work might be published in.
  • Connected with other researchers and provided ideas for taking the work forwards post-PhD.


Abi Hall

 Picture of Abi Hall

“In a nutshell the IVSA is an excellent opportunity to network with other organisations.”

What I did:

Presented at: Nottingham BRC

Talk date: March 2019

Talk title: “Physiotherapy for people with dementia who fracture their hip.”

Number of attendees: 15

Type of audience: OTs, physios, study managers, podiatrist

Main outcomes:

  • Networking opportunity for people working on similar research project work.
  • Confidence to share own research.


Fareeha Tariq

 Picture of Fareeha Tariq

“The IVSA is an excellent opportunity for young researchers to network and present their research to an external audience.”

What I did:

Presented at: Birmingham BRC

Talk date: May 2019

Talk title: “Detection of clonal haematopoiesis-associated somatic mutations in rheumatoid arthritis.”

Number of attendees: 35

Type of audience: PIs, Postdocs, PhD students and technicians

Main outcomes:

  • Networking with collaborators.
  • Gaining insight into BRC-led research and facilities at another institute.
  • Presenting work to an external audience can enhance public speaking skills and confidence. Getting appreciation from the audience on the maturity of presenting the work and interaction during the question answer session was very encouraging.
  • Defending work during the question answer session improves critical thinking.
  • Opens doors to more networking opportunities or collaborations in the future.