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Principal Investigator and Young Researcher of 2021/22 announced by RCEM and NIHR

Published: 10 February 2022

The National Institute Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network (CRN) and Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) are pleased to announce the winners of the 2021/22 awards. The Principal Investigator of the Year is Professor Jason Smith and Dr Anisa Jafar has been awarded Young Researcher of the Year.

These joint awards, in their fifth year, recognise outstanding contributions of NHS consultants and trainees in the conduct of clinical research in the field of emergency medicine.

Principal Investigator of the Year

Professor Smith is a Consultant in emergency medicine at Derriford Hospital for the University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust (UHP). The judging committee were incredibly impressed by Professor Smith’s commitment to emergency medicine research.

Professor Smith has played a pivotal role in relaunching the emergency medicine portfolio at the University of Plymouth and re-establishing Plymouth as a key enabler in delivering multi-centre research studies.

By taking a flexible approach, Professor Smith was able to restart emergency medicine research by taking practical steps to secure space for a research presence at the UHP and enabling staff to have devoted time for research.

For the FALCON study, investigating faster and more accurate COVID-19 tests, a group of empowered and supervised healthcare assistants who were already working in the COVID assessment area effectively ran the study.

Research was also enabled by hiring research nurses who could dedicate their time to discussing research with potential participants, as it was clear that clinical staff did not have the capacity to concurrently enrol patients with the pressures of the pandemic.

As a result eight studies are currently running at the UHP and four further studies are in the set-up stage.

Reflecting on the award, Professor Smith said:

My thanks to all of those who have contributed to making the relaunch of our emergency research portfolio possible. It is an absolute honour to have been awarded the RCEM/NIHR Principal Investigator of the Year Award 2022.

Young Researcher of the Year

Dr Jafar is presently undertaking an NIHR Academic Clinical Lectureship and is ST6 in Emergency Medicine at the Manchester Royal Infirmary and the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI) at the University of Manchester. The judging committee found Dr Jafar to be an excellent role model for young researchers and were enthused by Dr Jafar’s commitment to global health and her well thought-out research project.

Dr Jafar is incredibly dedicated to cultivating research collaboration for global health and emergency medicine. Dr Jafar is one of the creators of the Global Emergency Care Collaborative (GECCo), a platform that engages colleagues who are interested in global health and emergency medicine. The platform has enabled collaboration between researchers: creating a committee mapping UK engagement in global health, engaging emergency medicine colleagues through Global Emergency Medicine Literature Reviews and Dr Jafar supports junior colleagues to develop their research profiles.

Dr Jafar’s proposed research aims to understand how global health impacts emergency medicine in the UK. By interviewing emergency medicine Healthcare professionals who have global health experience and querying how this experience impacts their practice, Dr Jafar hopes to identify the barriers and enablers for integrating global health into emergency medicine. 

Contemplating the award, Dr Jafar said:

I plan to mentor and support junior emergency medicine colleagues to investigate the role played, and potential created, by global health work conducted by those in UK Emergency Care. Winning this award is a real opportunity to expand the capacity for global health research amongst those in UK emergency care so I’m really pleased

Recognising outstanding research contributions

Julie Solomon (NIHR CRNCC, King's College London) said: 

The NIHR CRN RCEM awards have once again built on the strength of clinical research collaboration, particularly during an extremely pressured year. The applications showed an increasing emphasis on working as a team with colleagues from across the spectrum of roles and responsibilities as well as with patients and the public. The awards confirm that emergency medicine is going from strength to strength, and its community of clinical researchers will make a real difference to clinical practice both in the UK and abroad.

Alasdair Corfield (RCEM Research Committee) said:

RCEM has been proud to support the joint NIHR CRN/RCEM awards again this year. The awards continue to recognise excellence in emergency medicine research, particularly in light of the challenging conditions over the past 12 months. We recognise the hard work of all the nominees and awardees and are encouraged to see the impact of research activity on improving patient care.

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