Health professionals gathered last week for a symposium aimed at those who are conducting research or thinking about pursuing a research career.

The North West London Research Symposium provided advice on funding, alongside examples of successful research projects. Held at South Kensington, the annual event was run by the Imperial College Clinical Academic Training Office (CATO) and aimed at nurses, allied health professions, midwives, pharmacists and healthcare scientists.

There were over 100 delegates, representing 14 professions and eight institutions from across North West London.

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Professor Dave Jones, Dean of Trainees for the NIHR

After a welcome and introduction, three speakers from pharmacy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy presented their experience of research challenges and rewards. This was followed by a keynote presentation from Professor Dave Jones, the Dean of Trainees for the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), which stressed the importance of research to improve clinical care and provided insight into what the NIHR are looking for in applications for their fellowships.

Professor Gary Frost, Chair in Dietetics and Nutrition at Imperial College London, who co-chaired the event said: “We know that research improves clinical practice in all areas. As such it is important that our health professionals are aware of what options are available to support those wanting to pursue a research career. This symposium provides a forum for those considering research to learn more about the process and the benefits and to ask any questions from those who have embarked on a research career.”

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Jennifer Jones presenting an evaluation of programme to prevent cardiovascular disease

The three research presentations provided a sense of the range of projects that can be funded at both an NIHR and institutional level. These included investigating the impact on swallowing after throat surgery, evaluating a multidisciplinary community programme to prevent cardiovascular disease and a review of the instruments to assess sexual difficulties associated with treatment for cervical or endometrial cancer. There were 30 poster presentations, reflecting the increase in high quality research carried out by health professionals looking for answers to diverse and important health care problems.

Dr Jeremy Levy, Director of Academic Training, said, “It was fantastic to be joined by so many healthcare professionals from such a wide range of professions who are all interested in discussing and learning more about research. The caliber of the presentations and posters was so high it was difficult to choose which to showcase on the day and we hope that our speakers and their presentations provided an insight into what a research career can offer.”

The symposium ended with a closing address by Professor Priscilla Harries, Head of Department – Clinical Sciences, Brunel University, talking about her own research career and offering delegates tips and advice on how to become a successful researcher.

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Delegates at the symposium

Delegates engaged with the interactive elements of the programme, selecting winners for the best research poster and oral presentations by using an online voting tool.

The presentation materials from the event will be shared on the CATO website and kept there for up to one month.