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Wednesday 28 February 2024

Future research leaders take their first steps in Southampton

Nine researchers have entered a growing programme for future research leaders.

They join 20 researchers who are currently part of the University Hospital Southampton (UHS) Research Leaders Programme (RLP).

The fourth cohort includes a variety of professions, with doctors, dietitians and clinical scientists. It also covers a wide range of specialisms, including cardiology, urology and critical care.

The RLP supports award holders to take the next steps in their research career. It covers salary costs for at least one day a week (20% whole time equivalent) for up to three years.

The awards are open to all healthcare professionals substantively employed by UHS. It is managed by the Southampton Academy of Research (SoAR).

The next cohort

Following a competitive process, the nine new RLP awardees are:

  • Dr Caroline Anderson, Lead Paediatric Renal Dietitian
  • Dr Tracy Coelho, Consultant in Paediatric Gastroenterology
  • Dr Peter Cowburn, Consultant Cardiologist
  • Dr Rebecca Cusack, Consultant in Critical Care Medicine
  • Dr James Douglas, Consultant Urologist
  • Dr Andrew Flett, Consultant Cardiologist
  • Dr Mark Johnson, Consultant Neonatologist
  • Dr Richard Marigold, Consultant Stroke Physician
  • Dr Sofia Michopoulou, Consultant Clinical Scientist

Changing the culture

Patients who take part in research have been shown to have better outcomes. UHS is therefore keen to encourage staff to undertake research, and the RLP is central to this.

The RLP enables researchers from all backgrounds, professions and specialisms the time they need to engage in research and build on their existing strengths. It means they can develop the skill set and confidence they need to generate impactful, innovative and sustainable research programmes of their own.

This is creating a culture where research is valued. It also allows more patients to have the opportunity to take part in studies and trials.

Dr Kristin Veighey, Lead for the RLP, said:

“It is fantastic to see the fourth cohort of the UHS Research Leaders Programme start their journey.

“It has been a privilege to watch individuals grow and develop as researchers. We are helping facilitate research culture change within UHS that brings greater opportunities for our patients and staff.”

Investing in success

Since the programme was first established in 2022, it has brought in over £3.6m in total grant income. Awardees have published over 200 peer-reviewed publications.

It has supported three cohorts of UHS staff to develop their research and leadership skills. This has led to the creation of a new palliative care group, supported research working towards sustainability and attracted new substantive senior leaders to work at UHS.

The current awardees have already made great progress. Since she started her RLP, Dr Cathy McKenzie has been made an honorary Associate Professor at the University of Southampton.

Dr Stephen Lim has taken on the role of Ageing and Dementia Theme Lead at NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (ARC) Wessex.

Dr Sophie Fletcher and her research fellows have won NIHR British Thoracic Society (BTS) Clinical Research Network awards. Both Dr Fletcher and Dr Hitasha Rupani are now chair of a BTS specialist advisory group - Dr Fletcher for interstitial and rare lung disease, and Dr Rupani for asthma.

Applications will open for the next RLP cohort later this year. Find out more about the RLP on the SoAR website.