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Find out more about Clinical Academics in Wessex

Clinical academics are clinically active health researchers. They work in health and social care as clinicians to improve, maintain, or recover health while in parallel researching new ways of delivering better outcomes for the patients that they treat and care for.


We support clinical academics at all stages of their career through a number of awards that are funded locally or through the national HEE/NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) Programme.  

In 2016/17, £290,500 was awarded to 25 successful applicants who will progress research in the following areas; primary ciliary dyskinesia, challenging behaviour interventions, critical care and nutrition, radiotherapy, mental health including perinatal and infants, aromatherapy and nutrition in labour,  perceptions of clinical trials, worry based cognitive therapy, palliative assessment tool, paediatric inflammatory bowel disease, early persistent abdomino-pelvic pain, vulnerable women and families, midwifery, developmental language disorder, paediatric nutrition and gastroenterology, musculoskeletal, pain and podiatry, learning disabilities, trauma networks, patient burdens of disease management, PICU, survivorship, nutritional experiences and outcomes

This is what some of the successful awardees had to say;

The award will enable me to complete my MA in Education and my ultimate goal of becoming an advanced practitioner in the role of patient and professional education in the field of diabetes.


The award has provided a wonderful opportunity to continue the work I have already started, which aims to integrate nutrition into the care of infants with congenital heart disease to improve growth and parental self-management.  Without such awards, developing and implementing ideas which aim to improve outcomes of vulnerable children would not be possible.


I am extremely grateful for the award, in particular because it has created the potentially career-changing opportunity to strengthen a working collaboration between my department and Southampton University and provides the necessary backing to support future grant applications, for example with the NIHR.


I would like to take the opportunity to say thank you and how much I enjoyed my post-doctoral award. What a difference a year makes. I was awarded my PhD in March 2015; submitted my NIHR (70 page proposal) in April and following shortlisting; peer review and a gruelling 17 professor panel interview in Leeds, I was awarded an NIHR Clinical Lectureship to commence on 1st April 2016.

My HEW Fellowship has been fundamental in allowing me make the difficult transition from a PhD student to a post-doctoral researcher, and culminated in a very prestigious NIHR award. I have been able to progress my development towards my goal of becoming a leader in renal palliative care research and extend and consolidate my clinical skills beyond the care of renal patients.

Having protected time to continue with research activity following on from completion of my PhD has been essential in developing my NIHR funding application.  Although the main output will be the NIHR application itself, there has been significant development of my research concept over the year. I would not have achieved this without this fellowship. I have developed my skills and experience in PP for research. 

I gained a huge amount from approaching the PPI in a more informal way. Thinking a bit differently about PPI and trying our different approaches has been insightful, and helped me to develop a more inclusive PPI plan for the main research

Summary of 2016/17 Clinical Academic Awardees

Wessex Team Research Awardees

Project Title and Summary


For more information please contact

Microbiome in paediatric inflammatory bowel disease


We are investigating the role the microbiome (bacteria) plays in the development of paediatric inflammatory bowel disease (PIBD). This is being conducted through application of next-generation sequencing of the gut microbiome and assessing gene expression (transcriptome) of gut biopsy samples taken from patients with newly diagnosed PIBD.


We hope to find specific microbiome and transcriptome signatures and gain some further insights into the disease. Through this we hope to prepare further and larger grant application and publish this work. In addition we want to host a research day for our patients and researchers to feedback what we have found.


Dr. James Ashton           

Paediatric Academic Clinical Fellow (Clinical)


Characterisation of the nutritional status of children with Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia (PCD)


PCD causes recurrent sinopulmonary infections and eventually to bronchiectasis. Our data suggest a relationship between BMI and lung function in our children with PCD. This relationship is well established in another chronic respiratory condition, cystic fibrosis, and has led to intensive dietetic input into these patients, which has been a key factor in the dramatic improvements in life expectancy. However there is a paucity of evidence characterising the nutrition status of children with PCD. Our aim therefore is to undertake a detailed nutritional assessment of our children with PCD. We will later use these data to develop a pragmatic nutritional intervention which we can then assess to evaluate the impact on the important clinical outcome measures for our patients.


Dr Woolf Walker

Paediatric Respiratory Consultant, UHS


Radiotherapy patient experiences and perceptions of enrolling in clinical trials (The RESPECT Study)


Currently less than 1% of cancer patients are enrolled into radiotherapy clinical trials.  The RESPECT study will explore the opinions and experiences of radiotherapy patients regarding trial participation, and look at why eligible patients decide whether or not to enrol, what influences their decision, and whether any practical changes might help trial recruitment.  Radiotherapy patients will be invited to take part in an informal interview, which will be transcribed and analysed, and the findings disseminated to aid other research teams to improve engagement and recruitment. 


Kim Meeking -            The radiotherapy research team:


Does a low-intensity Worry based Cognitive Therapy Group improve symptoms, functioning and quality of life in those with Psychosis?


Information pending


Tom Richardson

Principal Clinical Psychologist


Development and implementation of the Palliative Assessment Tool (PAT), to improve identification of unmet palliative care needs in critically ill patients and their families in intensive care



Information pending


Emma Murphy

Clinical Lecturer and Advanced Nurse Practitioner in Palliative and End of Life Care








Project Title and Summary


For more information please contact

Evaluating implementation of new fasting guidelines for patients undergoing surgical and airway procedures in critical care


Following the results of a recent audit of feed delivery on critical care, a new enhanced critical care nutrition protocol was developed. This protocol includes guidelines on fasting for patients undergoing surgical and airway procedures. These new guidelines aim to reduce time feed is stopped for surgery and procedures for critical care patients.

This project aims to evaluate time feeds stopped for procedures post implementation of new fasting guidelines and investigate barriers to following the new guidelines.


Bethan Jenkins

Lead Dietitian Critical Care


Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia (PCD) Nasal Rinsing Study


Investigations for PCD include taking a history, nasal nitric oxide measurements and structural and functional analysis of the cilia. Nasal brushings are undertaken to obtain ciliated epithelium which is analysed to detect abnormal ciliary motility via high speed videomicroscopy (HSVM). If abnormal, the sample is investigated further for structural defects via transmission electron microscopy (TEM).

Nasal brushing are performed by inserting a 2mm cytology brush into each nostril and agitating along the inferior turbinate. Patients referred for PCD testing often have chronic rhinitis, leading to mucus contamination of brushing. Excess mucus can cause equivocal HSVM results leading to further expensive TEM testing and/or repeat brushings that may not be required if the mucus could be removed.

Nasal rinsing prior to nasal brush sampling may reduce mucus contamination thus reducing the need for TEM or repeat brushings.  We hope to test the hypothesis ‘nasal rinsing prior to brushing reduces equivocal HSVM results’ thus reducing the number of TEM and repeat brushings, thereby reducing costs to the NHS and burden on the patient


Amanda Harris

Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia and Children’s Respiratory Nurse Specialist


Eating and drinking in labour


My research involves reviewing literature around the risks of consuming and avoiding food and drink during labour for women on all care pathways and women’s experiences surrounding this. 


National and local guidelines/policies on nutrition in labour will be collated and analysed after contacting all UK maternity facilities. Healthcare professionals directly involved in labour care at a midsized trust will be asked to complete an anonymous survey regarding their practices, sources of guidance and opinions around eating and drinking in labour.


The aim of the internship is to generate evidence to highlight best practice surrounding nutrition in labour. This has the potential to change local/national guidelines and identify areas of further postgraduate research.  


Susara Blunden





With this internship I have the opportunity to learn about clinical research in Radiotherapy by assembling a range of activities to this end. I am undertaking a course in Study Design and Research Methods from the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine in Oxford, visiting research teams at The Christie to learn how research is conducted in a larger centre and visiting the Radiotherapy Trials Quality Assurance group. I will also gain experience working in a research group by carrying out a 2 week project with the Macmillan Survivorship Research Group relating patient reported outcome measures to radiotherapy planning data.  


Charlotte Britton

Lead Radiotherapy Trials Physicist



Research Design Considerations for a Study Investigating Aromatherapy in Labour: Views of Healthcare Professionals


This study will explore the views of the multidisciplinary obstetric team in Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust with regard to the research design of a future trial investigating aromatherapy in labour.

No research has been carried out examining the effect of aromatherapy on delay in labour and so, the future trial will be innovative and has the potential to improve labour outcomes for large numbers of women and their babies.

The data collected through this survey will add to the PPI work already completed to ensure that the future study is acceptable to women and staff.


Stephanie Grigsby

Research Midwife



Mental Health Act – Service User Experience


Exploring the service user experience of Mental Health Act assessments- qualitative study interviewing service users about the little researched area of MHA assessment.  This collaborative research project has people with lived experiences as part of research team. The award will fund the interviews, analysis and a dissemination workshop with local services managers and service users. 


Louise Blakley

Bank Approved Mental Health Professional



Pressure area care of trauma patients in critical care


Information pending

Katy Woods

Staff Nurse- General Intensive Care             



Wessex Transition Awardee


Does experience affect eye-gaze when assessing a patient’s physiology?

An in-depth exploratory study of changes in healthcare student’s eye-gaze at different stages of training.


Kirsty Harris   





In 2016/17 we will be piloting an exciting new award that will support team-level research.

If you would like to know more, email fleur.kitsell@hee.nhs.uk

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