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Asking questions of the heart

Professor Tim Chico is a FLIER participant, a Consultant Cardiologist and Head of the Department of Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease at The University of Sheffield. Here he tells us what he has learned on the FLIER programme and how it’s helping him to shed new light on a pressing health problem.


Q: What issue in health research do you want to take on and why?

A: Heart diseases affects millions of people. But at the moment we don't measure patients’ symptoms or their response to treatment and we collect almost no data about their daily lives. I rarely see a patient where I don't feel the lack of this information. This needs to change, and quickly. I want to understand how to collect and use this information to make the best decisions in cardiovascular healthcare.

Q: What have you have done differently as a result of the FLIER programme?

A: I've become more comfortable leading groups with more subject expertise than I possess, as long as I am clear about the group's direction and purpose. I've tried to step away from some habits that are ingrained in an academic (like incredibly busy slides) and am now more likely to use narratives rather than data to communicate key points. I've ruthlessly exploited the amazing network of other FLIERs and Academy Fellows that the programme provides. I've set myself very ambitious goals and I want to deliver on these.

Q: Has there been anything surprising about the FLIER programme?

A: The way our cohort of FLIERs bonded, despite only meeting in real life once so far, was a nice surprise, and a hugely valuable support during a really difficult time. If I've laughed out loud during the last year, it's usually because of something a fellow FLIER has said.

Q: What advice would you give to your younger self?

A: Stop worrying about how rubbish you are and get on with making the world a better place, you dimwit.

Q: What are your hopes for the future in your work?

A: Big teams solving huge problems, which I feel is the direction of travel already. Alongside traditional research projects, I'd like to see cross-sector orchestrated movements with many different groups pulling in the same direction. I'm pretty sure complex problems like heart disease need that kind of approach and it's what I'd like to help bring about.


Professor Tim Chico is a participant in Round 2 of the Academy of Medical Sciences’ FLIER programme, a unique programme that will develop leaders of the future who can create collaborations across academia, industry, the NHS and government to drive innovation.

The FLIER programme is generously supported by the Dennis and Mireille Gillings Foundation and the Government Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy ‘Investment in Research Talent’ fund. You can find out more about our funding model and explore our donors here, or visit our Support Us webpage to explore ways to help our work. 

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