Attracting, Developing and Retaining Research Leaders of the Future

Development of staff in all clinical and non-clinical professionals

We continue to develop the capacity of both clinical and non-clinical health and social care staff embedded in our partner organisations through our matched funded leadership fellowships. Following a training needs assessment exercise we developed a bespoke training package to address the knowledge and skills gaps of the leadership fellows (see above). Our most recent training event in this series, on 10 March 2016, focused on health informatics. It provided an introduction to the types of data that are available and how they can be used to underpin health services research (see also News Blog report here).

In addition to this generalisable training programme, the leadership fellows receive specialist support from the service themes and cross-cutting themes to which they are attached. This may be through day-to-day engagement with applied health research activities, attendance at specific training or research forums established by the theme or through one-to-one support. For example within our Maternity and Child Health theme a research midwives forum has been established by Dr Sara Kenyon who is NIHR Training Advocate for Midwifery.

We are working collaboratively with public health and social care services based within local authorities in the region. We have a number of leadership and diffusion fellows from local authority partners who attend our training seminars and a handful were awarded funding to complete part-time masters at University of Birmingham. Six fellows, two from Birmingham City Council and four from other healthcare partners, were funded under this scheme. The majority opted to complete the Masters in Public Health (MPH). All are achieving excellent academic results, with merit or distinction grades in assessments to date. We recently collected feedback from the fellows to see how we can further support their career development within or across partner organisations. Most have stated that they want to pursue a career within their current trust/local authority/organisation and that the additional qualification and support from CLAHRC will assist with promotion and career advancement.

Our Prevention and Detection of Diseases theme is collaborating with local authorities in Coventry and Warwickshire on a project to evaluate the ‘health checks’ programme. This project was the outcome of a successful training event to support the local implementation. Furthermore, this theme organised a sell-out, one-day ‘health screening master class’ that took place on 3 May 2016. The event was supported by the National Screening Committee and covered the definition of screening, availability of programmes available in UK, policy-making processes and the remit of the NSC (see here for more information). The training session was evaluated and analysis showed that understanding of screening programmes improved after the session.

Particular strengths of the training environment

The NIHR funded faculty are supported by multidisciplinary teams both at individual theme level and through the expertise and support from other themes bridging the Universities of Birmingham, Keele and Warwick. We provide opportunities for inter-CLAHRC collaboration through events such as workshops, training opportunities, away days and management meetings. This way of working has stimulated new collaborative projects, grants and papers, for example a paper recently published in Early Intervention in Psychiatry Journal demonstrated the collaboration between primary care case-finding experts from the Prevention and Detection of Diseases theme and early intervention in psychosis researchers from the Youth Mental Health theme to demonstrate a predictive model to identify early warning signs of depression in young people in primary care.[1]

Extending the academic capacity across a number of university campuses maximises our areas of expertise so creating an intellectually strong and dynamic training environment for both the NIHR funded and supported faculty and the leadership and diffusion fellows supported by matched funding. The Universities of Birmingham and Warwick currently provide academic placements for public health trainees and in the future placements may also be available at Keele University. Many of the trainees have been informally linked to the CLAHRC themes, mainly the Prevention and Detection of Diseases theme based at both Birmingham and Warwick. We plan to formalise these opportunities, as CLAHRC offers a productive and highly relevant learning environment for this specialist group.

We have recently formalised the link with our host Trust’s (UHBFT) postgraduate training programme (Annex U) with a number of students undertaking specific CLAHRC projects as part of their dissertation. For example, one health economics student is working with our Chronic Diseases theme and a geriatrician at UHBFT to evaluate a service designed to prevent the admission to hospital for frail elderly patients. We have recently supported a successful application, led by UHBFT, to deliver the pre-Masters Clinical Academic Internship Programmes (CAIP) and Masters to Doctorate Bridging Programmes and continue to collaborate with CAIP to deliver our respective training objectives.

We have developed two specific masters programmes, one at Birmingham (MSc Health Research Methods) and one at Warwick Business School (MSc in Healthcare Innovation & Leadership). The MSc in Health Research Methods at Birmingham will receive its first students in September 2016 and CLAHRC faculty will receive a discount on tuition fees (course page). A MOOC is being developed as a precursor to the MSc in Healthcare Innovation and Leadership at Warwick Business School and it is anticipated that these will launch in early 2017. CLAHRC researchers will be invited to provide some of the content for the above formal courses to showcase case studies from empirical applied health research investigations.

Our approach to ensure that research student/support staff receive a high quality development experience

Postgraduate students are embedded within our themes and are supported by the multidisciplinary academic environment provided by the CLAHRC collaboration. A training plan for 2016 was agreed with the postgraduate faculty, following an event held on 19 November 2015 to explore career opportunities and consider how CLAHRC could further support a shared learning experience (read also News Blog report here). Additional learning objectives identified by the group included ethics / governance, PPI and collaboration/engagement for successful applied health research. The first of these graduate tutorials, setting up research in the NHS: ethical and practical considerations, was held in February 2016 and included external speakers from the Health Authority Agency (HAA), West Midlands CRN, South Birmingham Research Ethics Committee and ethicist from University of Birmingham (read also News Blog report here).

A Warwick-based student, Jennifer Cooper, has been successful in her application to the NIHR Infrastructure Doctoral Exchange Scheme. She will undertake a placement at the University of Birmingham, supervised by Professor Tom Marshall, to gain technical primary care database skills and will explore the use of routinely recorded data from electronic GP records (THIN database) to improve colorectal cancer screening and referral. Amy Grove, the first successful exchange student completed her placement at CLAHRC Yorkshire & Humber in summer 2015. Amy was embedded in the Translating Knowledge into Action theme where she gleaned some practical approaches to knowledge mobilisation and is working collaboratively on two papers; one to be submitted to Implementation Science and a further paper to Social Science and Medicine.

As described above, we support a number of our faculty with NIHR fellowship applications. Collectively, we already hold a number of NIHR fellowships and one professorship and have recently supported further fellowship applications for round 9 of the scheme, which closed in January 2016. We are supporting several more in their applications to the NIHR Knowledge Mobilisation Fellowship and we currently support two NIHR Training Advocates – one for Midwifery (Dr Sara Kenyon, University of Birmingham) and one for Physiotherapy (Prof Nadine Foster, Keele University).

Nathalie Maillard is the nominated training lead for the CLAHRC West Midlands and she was featured in the August 2015 edition of the NIHR faculty world magazine.

— Nathalie Maillard, CLAHRC WM Head of Programme Delivery

— Tom Marshall, CLAHRC WM Co-Director


  1. Nicholas L, Ryan R, Connor C, Birchwood M, Marshall T. Derivation of a prediction model for a diagnosis of depression in young adults: a matched case-control study using electronic primary care records. Early Interv Psychiatry. 2016. [ePub].



2 thoughts on “Attracting, Developing and Retaining Research Leaders of the Future”

  1. Thank you for your interest in PPI. All future PPI opportunities will be advertised in our Newsblog. Watch this space!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s