The Next Generation of Leaders

Working in partnership with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Academy  we have set up The Fellows Incubator to provide targeted, expert-led high level career development.

The objective is to increase capacity in the science of large-scale healthcare and biomedical data sets, including their generation, management, analysis, interpretation and communication of results.

Health data research is recognised by NIHR as a field with enormous potential that needs to recruit people, from varied backgrounds, to bring fresh insights on how data can be used to make lasting improvements to the health of the public.

The Incubator has been providing 46 funded UKRI Innovation Fellows and UK HDR Rutherford Fellows with bespoke training and support. They have benefited from mentorship schemes, leadership opportunities, interdisciplinary training resources, plus a programme of events and workshops.

The Incubator is also valuable because it brings together clinical and non-clinical researchers from across the UK who are interested in developing a career in this exciting field. It also allows them to build networks and collaborate on real-world projects.

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Our community of Fellows

The Impact of HDR UK Fellowships

The HDR UK NPIF Fellowship Programme has proved highly successful in generating health data research  with a significant impact and in nurturing a new generation of leaders in the field. Our 46 UKRI Innovation Fellows and UK HDR Rutherford Fellows, all received expert-led high-level career development through the Fellows Incubator run in partnership with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Academy.

They also pursued their own research agendas, built up new networks and established fresh collaborations with other groups or individual researchers. With the three-year fellowships complete there is clear evidence of their contribution to advancing knowledge through high quality research, in guiding policy, engaging a wide audience, and increasing recognition.

Fellowship achievements

Due to the programme Fellows have:*

  • leveraged £3.6 in further funding for every £1 invested – from different sectors and internationally.
  • had their publications cited over 9,000 times.
  • been recognised for their achievements 39 times – as keynote speakers, through honorary positions, research prizes, and honours such as L’Oreal UNESCO Women in Science fellowship.
  • reported over 100 collaborations spanning 20 countries and including representatives from academia, hospitals, industry, and more.
  • influenced policy 31 times, both nationally and internationally, including through membership of key advisory committees such as SAGE and SPI-M.
  • reported 143 engagements including presentations, working groups, press releases etc., of which 44% were international.

Fellows’ publications are typically cited around five times more than others in same field. One paper on the Early dynamics of transmission and control of COVID-19: a mathematical modelling study has been cited over 1,100 times. The Fellowships also aimed to increase capacity in the science of large-scale healthcare and biomedical data sets, including their generation, management, analysis, interpretation and communication of results.

Powering pioneering research

Among the Fellows was Dr Joram Posma who is now a lecturer in cancer informatics at Imperial College London. The programme allowed him to carry out pioneering research to find biomarkers in urine that would allow clinicians to identify the diets of patients with high blood pressure. As a Fellow he had access to very large data sets that allowed him to test his hypotheses.

Due to the networking events for Fellows Dr Posma met Dr Tim Beck from the University of Leicester whose research is into developing semantics-driven capabilities to integrate and compare clinical and research health data.

Dr Joram Posma

Both faced a common challenge that the literature often contains relevant data that is difficult to locate and extract. They have set up collaborative projects including one aimed at developing a tool to identify and extract data from smaller studies that might normally be overlooked because they are not of obvious relevance.

He said: “Tim and I would have probably never met were it not for HDR UK because we come from different fields.  The Fellows’ events and summer schools allowed you to mix with other Fellows from different places and backgrounds. We were able to talk together, discussing ideas – and things grew out of that. As a result, we’ve applied for two grants.”

Dr Tim Beck

Dr Beck hopes that the international contacts he developed with the European intergovernmental body ELIXIR through the Fellowship will prove beneficial.

He said: “One of the benefits has been that it’s allowed me to get more contacts nationally and internationally. It’s given me the independence to form my own collaborations and take research in the directions I wish. It’s very important that we’re aware of what’s going on at the international level so that the infrastructure solutions we’re developing don’t just fit for Leicester or Imperial. But that they are nationally and internationally applicable.”

* The data is from a ResearchFish submission and bibliometric analyses. It includes outputs reported by affiliated researchers from inception to 11 March, 2021. The raw extract was supplemented with information from Dimensions. Fellowship data was extracted using the corresponding grant ID.

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