INSPIRE is designed to engage medical, dental and veterinary undergraduates with research. To do this we offer funding to medical, dental and veterinary schools across the country, which allows them to deliver locally designed activities aimed at informing and exciting students about the benefits and potential of a career in research. So far the INSPIRE scheme has included:
- Three rounds of ‘small grants awards’ open to all UK medical, dental and veterinary schools and offering up to £10,000 for INSPIRE focused activities.
- A ‘special project’ fund, for schools to pilot or expand particularly innovative projects, or to enable specific projects to be rolled out nationally.
- A series of workshops hosted by the Academy for schools to showcase their activities, share learning and develop new ideas.
The INSPIRE scheme is coordinated by the Academy of Medical Sciences and supported by the Wellcome Trust.
The INSPIRE scheme aims to:
- Inspire medical, dental and veterinary undergraduates to consider a research career.
- Stimulate medical schools to design and implement local, innovative approaches to building student interest in research.
- Encourage student involvement: the experiences and needs of local students should inform the development of the local INSPIRE programme.
- Promote high quality, collaborative partnerships between members of faculty and students, and between schools and other local/regional/national organisations.
- Strengthen local, regional and national student research networks, sharing experiences and resources.
- Foster a research culture in all clinicians entering the NHS, not just those with an interest in pursuing a career in academic medicine. Likewise, INSPIRE aims to foster a research culture in dentists and vets across the country.
The Academy offers ‘small grants’ of up to £10,000 to succesful applicants, who each then have the responsibility and ownership for deploying the funds locally for INPSIRE focused activities over a 1-2 year period. Such activities should focus on, but are not limited to:
- Workshops, lectures, events and discussions based around research and research careers.
- Opportunities to network and develop mentoring relationships.
- Introductions to practical research through workshops teaching topics such as methodology and laboratory techniques.
- Stipends for competitively awarded, short-term vacation studentships.
- Creation of teaching materials.
- Films, websites and multimedia projects.
In addition to the small grants, the Academy offers ‘special grants’ awards to Schools that are pursuing particularly innovative and often collaborative projects. For more information on the Special Projects that have been implemented, click here.
In carrying out the INSPIRE Project, selected Medical Schools nominate a faculty member to be the INPSIRE lead. They are the lead contact for the Academy and for anyone interested in INSPIRE activities delivered in their School. The Academic leads work closely with student representatives to plan activities, apply for funding and lead delivery, in most cases, with administrative support. All School Leads can be found here.
The Role of the Academy of Medical Sciences
In carrying out the scheme, the Academy will:
- Administer and manage the grant scheme.
- Support medical schools to help them develop a local activity plan.
- Link INSPIRE activities to other national initiatives.
- Distribute an electronic newsletter for INPSIRE leads and other relevant stakeholders.
- Facilitate contact between INSPIRE leads.
- Host sharing conferences towards the end of each funding round.
The INSPIRE scheme is open to all UK veterinary schools and medical schools (that are recognised by the General Medical Council).
INSPIRE began in 2012, with £1million in funding from the Wellcome Trust. The scheme has been open to all medical schools since its induction and all dental and veterinary schools since 2016. In this time, we have awarded 61 small grants and a further nine special project grants. The small grants of up to £10,000 over 1-2 years were awarded in three rounds, reaching 31 schools in the first round in December 2012, 22 schools in December 2014 and another eight in 2016. The nine special project grants were awarded June 2014. You can find out more information on the awards made so far here.
Schools have flexibility in how they use funds and, as a result, variation exists between the schools from developing events with broad engagement to supporting research projects for individual students. Many schools have chosen to collaborate on projects regionally with all schools delivering activities that have been designed and delivered with the input of students.
INSPIRE workshops are designed to exchange ideas and good practice learning amongst schools. Three have been held so far:
- The first development workshop took place in 2012 and offered INSPIRE leads and partners the opportunity to hear about activities already in existence and to discuss ideas for potential INSPIRE projects.
“It is schemes like this that will really 'INSPIRE' us as medical students to both a) get involved in academic medicine and promoting academic medicine and b) try to get as many other people involved as possible.” INSPIRE student.
- The second workshop took place in 2014 was designed to showcase activities funded under the first round of Small Grants and for INSPIRE groups to share their learning. Around 50 INSPIRE leads and student representatives were present.
“The workshop has certainly provided me with useful ideas regarding the type of activities which could be implemented for future activities within our medical school.” INSPIRE lead.
- The third was also held in 2014 to bring together the medical schools awarded special projects grants. This, like the second workshop, gave INSPIRE leads the chance to hear about each other’s work as well as to consider their plans for monitoring and evaluation.
“This was a very useful event and provided the opportunity to meet people from other areas of the region and hear what initiatives they are working on.” INSPIRE lead.