Capacity building

Key areas of focus

  • To support the academic development of non-medical health care professionals (NMHCPs) to facilitate patient-centred research
  • To develop partnerships with industry to nurture clinicians capable of leading experimental medicine and clinical trials
  • To develop capacity in areas of need, particularly around skills in genomic technology and bioinformatics

Introduction to Theme

Capacity building is a cross-cutting theme that aims to support and train the next generation of academic clinicians, biomedical scientists and NMHCPs.
Through the provision of fellowships and via practical support and mentoring we aim to equip BRC fellows to make significant and lasting contributions to translational research. In Cambridge, we provide extraordinary opportunities for our trainees, including access to cutting edge genomic technology, through collaborations with the Sanger Wellcome Genome Campus and the European Bioinformatic Institute (EBI). We also offer an unparallelled experience of experimental medicine via the Cambridge Clinical Trials Unit and the Addenbrooke’s Clinical Research Centre, and our links with pharma (Astra-Zeneca, MedImmune and Glaxo Smith Kline), all of which have bases on the biomedical campus or in the Cambridge area.

Key areas of activity include:

1. Non-medical health care professionals (NMHCPs).

To increase the number of NMHCPs involved in research, we provide 1-year pump priming fellowships, co-funded by the Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT). The aim of these fellowships is to allow individuals to get preliminary data that will enable them to develop credible fellowship applications for NIHR or comparable PhD schemes. This process is overseen by Christi Deaton (Professor of Nursing), who also provides guidance and mentoring to fellows. Our longer-term aim is to build a cohort of credible NMHCP researchers that carry out patient-centered research in the NHS.

2. Biomedical scientists.

With the explosion of genomic and digital medicine, nurturing individuals who have the ability to deal with big data, including epidemiological, genetic or transcriptomic datasets is essential. To increase the number of biomedical scientists in these areas of need, we fund Mathematics, Genomics and Medicine (MGM) MPhil students. We also enable more senior researchers to develop skills in biomedical research via BRC co-funded European Bioinformatic Post-doctoral (EBPOD) Fellowships (co-led by Dr Alvis Brazma and Prof Ewan Birney). The aim of this programme is to allow skilled post-doctoral fellows to work on collaborative translational projects, co-supervised by investigators at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory-European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and the Cambridge BRC.

3. Academic clinicians  

We nurture the most talented clinicians to pursue a career in academic medicine, through the provision of 1 year priming fellowships, in partnership with the ACT, Evelyn Trust, Isaac Newton Trust/PKD Charity/RCS. These fellowships provide an opportunity for clinicians who have not had significant laboratory experience to spend a year developing a project and generating preliminary data to allow them to submit a competitive application to one of the national Clinical Training PhD Fellowships (e.g. Wellcome Trust and MRC).

4. Industry collaboration

To increase rapid translation of research to the bedside, we co-fund non-clinical PhD fellows with MedImmune to work on collaborative projects that are jointly supervised by BRC and Medimmune Principle Investigators (PIs).

Via the Experimental Medicine Initiative (led by Prof Ian Wilkinson), we also support Experimental Medicine clinical PhD students. These fellows are co-supervised by a PI in the BRC and pharma (GSK or AZ) and projects include involvement in a clinical trial, providing hands-on training in this vital area.