The NIHR BRC at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Clinical Training Fellow cohort of 2019 have all successfully been awarded external grants to fund PhDs.  The research fellowships give medically qualified clinicians one year ‘out of programme’ to focus on research and training in experimental medicine.Fran Ozan

The year provides the clinicians with protected research time to gain pilot data and work on competitive applications to external funding bodies, such as Medical Research Council (MRC), National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and British Heart Foundation (BHF), to fund the continuation of the project into a PhD.

Dr Frances Conti-Ramsden, supervised by Professor Lucy Chappell and Professor Lucilla Poston, was awarded an MRC grant for her project, An investigation of ethnicity related differences in hypertensive disorders of pregnancy amongst women living in the UK.

Fran explained: “I am delighted to have recently been awarded an MRC Clinical Research Training Fellowship. Having a year out of clinical training on a BRC Clinical Training Fellowship has been invaluable in securing this funding. It has afforded me the time and headspace to work up pilot data, undertake relevant methodological training, craft competitive grant applications and develop relationships with senior academics across a range of disciplines who have been pivotal in supporting me in my fellowship applications. I feel so proud to have been awarded funding for a project I have developed and have ownership of, and am very grateful to the BRC for providing me with such a fantastic opportunity to launch my academic career. I wholeheartedly recommend the programme to budding clinical academics.”

Dr Ozan Demir, supervised by Professor Divaka Pereira and Dr Andrew Webb, was awarded a grant from the BHF for his cardiovascular project, Establishing invasive physiological thresholds for ischaemia in left main coronary artery disease.

Ozan told us: “The BRC Fellowship has been invaluable, it enabled me to have dedicated time to better develop my research question and methodology. Furthermore, during the Fellowship I have been able to contribute to high impact peer-reviewed publications with Prof Perera and Dr Webb.”

Dr Sheila McSweeney, supervised by Professor John McGrath and Dr Christos Tziotzios, was also awarded an MRC grant for her project, Genetic and transcriptomic analyses to determine the aetiopathogenesis of solar urticaria.

Sheila said: “The BRC Fellowship was absolutely invaluable to my successful application for PhD funding. It provided with me with the training, resources and personal support required to develop my research proposal and I am very incredibly grateful for the opportunities it provided.”

Professor Rebecca Oakey, Cluster Four lead, commented: “Following a one-year NIHR BRC at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Clinical Fellowship, Fran, Sheila and Ozan have all successfully leveraged external funding to complete their PhDs which is fantastic news.

“The Clinical Fellowship programme is a highly successful scheme for providing the time for generating preliminary data and writing an excellent PhD project proposal in collaboration with two supportive supervisors. This is an important time for clinical academic skill development and preparation and with an 80% success rate for external funding, is an example of early career support that the NIHR Guy’s and St Thomas’ BRC is duly proud of.”