A unique scheme to attract non-medics at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust to undertake research is now open for 2015 applications.

The Research Fellowship Awards, which launched in 2014, is an opportunity for allied healthcare professionals such as nurses and dieticians to undertake research for one year.

The aim of the fellowships is to give recipients the opportunity to develop their research skills and experience so that they can apply for a Masters or PhD and progress in their clinical academic career.

In the video (above) Waljit Dhillo, Professor in Endocrinology & Metabolism at Imperial College London, and Christine Norton, Professor of Nursing at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, explain more about the Research Fellowship Awards and how they can benefit the careers of non-medics such as midwives, pharmacists and clinical scientists.

The five fellowships are worth a maximum award of £50,000 each.  They are jointly funded by Imperial College Healthcare Charity and Imperial NIHR Biomedical Research Centre (BRC).

Last year’s fellowships were awarded to dietitians Stella Kourtellidou and Julie Beckerson at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

Stella’s research study explores the potential benefits of giving sodium bicarbonate orally to kidney patients having regular haemodialysis. This is a form of therapy replicating many of the kidney’s functions, including the correction of the amount of acid in the blood by replacing bicarbonate three times a week. Stella will examine the effects of daily bicarbonate replacement on heart function, nutritional status and dialysis related symptoms such as cramps to see if there are any improvements.  She said:

“Around 25,000 people in the UK have advanced kidney failure and are receiving dialysis. My research fellowship has given me an exciting opportunity to enhance my research skills and dietetic practice in this clinical area. The findings could lead to better delivery of dialysis and improved healthcare outcomes for patients.”

Julie’s research study will focus on the nutritional status and intake of blood cancer patients undergoing stem cell transplants by analysing their body and muscle composition.  Patients who undergo this type of transplant need to have plenty of protein and calories in order to be strong enough to fight infections and recover.  However, some patients can struggle to eat as a result of the treatment.  Julie will also assess the ways patients have received nutrition during their treatment and the outcomes of this to see what was the best method. She added:

“It is great to have the funding and resources to carry out research within my clinical area.  This fellowship award will support me to develop research skills and hopefully my results will help improve and inform the nutritional management of this patient group.”

The Research Fellowship Awards is an example of the education and training opportunities offered by Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC), a joint initiative of Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

The deadline to apply for this year’s Research Fellowship Awards is 5 May 2015. Further information for applicants is available on the Imperial College Healthcare Charity pages.