The year-long programme offers interactive skills training and career development sessions, tailored mentoring and the opportunity to network with research leaders. It is designed so that participants are part of a unique cohort to share learnings and includes:
Interactive career development workshops
The fifth round of SUSTAIN will launch virtually in March. In previous years we have launched the programme with an in-person residential, which has formed a valuable part of the programme. Due to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken the decision to launch the programme virtually for this year. An in-person event in March is likely to be challenging to deliver safely and may have been a cause of stress for applicants. We hope that making this decision at this stage in the process, we have alleviated some of this uncertainty and worry.
For this year’s launch, we are working hard to tailor our launch programme to offer as similar an experience as possible through varied workshops and networking opportunities. Additionally, we hope to be able to offer in-person events and training when it is safe to do so for participants who feel this is valuable.
The March launch will be followed by a series of career development workshops. Each session will be tailored to support attendees through the challenges of combining research, teaching, clinical practice and caring and other responsibilities where relevant. Previous sessions have included topics on:
• Time management
• Setting up a research team for success
• Developing your leadership style
The cohort is small by design and are matched in co-coaching trios to enable ongoing peer support and safe discussion of issues/challenges. Small group work at each workshop helps to embed and put into practice key learning points.
Participants are mentored by a Fellow of the Academy. Bespoke training on how to get the most out of mentoring, and ongoing support is provided to both mentees and mentors over the course of the programme.
The fifth round of SUSTAIN will support 24 women for a period of one year. Only award holders from partner organisations are eligible.
To be eligible to apply for the fourth round, applicants have to hold one of the following awards or fellowships:
Medical Research Council
- Career Development Award
- Clinician Scientist Fellowship
- New Investigator Research Grant (NIRGs)
- Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship
- Sir Henry Dale Fellowship
- University Research Fellowship
Academy of Medical Sciences
- Academy of Medical Sciences/The Health Foundation Clinician Scientist Fellowship
- Springboard Award
- Starter Grant Award for Clinical Lecturers
Royal Academy of Engineering
- Research Fellow
- Engineering for Development Research Fellows
The 24 participants are selected by a computerised randomisation method, stratified to ensure they were selected from each partner organisation, fellowship cohorts and represent clinical researchers, engineers and scientists from other backgrounds across the UK.
Participants in round 4 (2020-21)
- Dr Natalie Blencowe, MRC Clinician Scientist and Senior Lecturer in Surgery, University of Bristol
- Dr Rebecca Boston, Lloyd's Register Foundation and RAEng Research Fellow, University of Sheffield
- Dr Maria Christophorou, Sir Henry Dale Fellow, The Babraham Institute
- Dr Abbe Crawford, Clinician in Neurology and Neurosurgery, Royal Veterinary College, University of London
- Dr Franziska Denk, Lecturer, King's College London
- Dr Jennifer Dickens, Senior Research Associate and Honorary Consultant, University of Cambridge
- Dr Nicola Fletcher, Ad Astra Fellow, University of Birmingham and University College Dublin
- Dr Rachel Freathy, Sir Henry Dale Fellow, University of Exeter
- Dr Marina Freitag, Royal Society University Research Fellow and Lecturer, Newcastle University
- Dr Gisela Helfer, Senior Lecturer in Physiology and Metabolism, University of Bradford
- Dr Maria Jimenez-Sanchez, MRC Career Development Fellow, King's College London
- Dr Sara Macias-Ribela, Sir Henry Dale Fellow, University of Edinburgh
- Dr Naomi McGovern, Group Leader, University of Cambridge
- Dr Kathryn Peall, MRC Clinician Scientist, Cardiff University
- Dr Dimitra Peppa, MRC Clinician Scientist, University of Oxford
- Dr Snehal Pinto Pereira, MRC Career Development Fellow, University College London
- Dr Helen Rowe, Sir Henry Dale Fellow and Group Leader, Queen Mary University of London
- Dr Maria Secrier, Lecturer in Computational Biology, University College London
- Dr Gemma Sharp, Senior Lecturer in Molecular Epidemiology, University of Bristol
- Dr Sabrina Simoncelli, Lecturer in Nanoscale Characterisation, University College London
- Dr Katherine Staines, Senior Lecturer, University of Brighton
- Dr Tiffany Taylor, Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellow, University of Bath
- Dr Gillian Tomlinson, MRC Clinician Scientist, University College London
- Dr Marta Vignola, RAEng Engineering for Development Research Fellow, University of Glasgow
A number of reports over the past decade have highlighted the relative paucity of women researchers in science securing senior leadership posts in the UK due to barriers and hidden biases. Although the number is slowly rising, the Academy believes that a more concerted effort is needed to ensure women are appropriately supported along their career trajectory to enable them to secure those senior positions.
 Medical Schools Council, 2013. A Survey of Staffing Levels of Medical Clinical Academics in UK Medical Schools as at 31 July 2012. http://bit.ly/1B7SPEM
 UKRC, 2009. Female Attrition, Retention and Barriers to Careers in SET Academic Research. Royal Society of Edinburgh, 2012. Tapping all our talents. NAS, 2010. Gender Differences at Critical Transitions in the Careers of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Faculty.
Reference group members
Professor Moira Whyte OBE FMedSci, Head of College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh (Chair)
Professor Susan Wray FMedSci, Professor of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, University of Liverpool
Sir James Smith FRS FMedSci, Director of Science at Wellcome and Visiting Group Leader at the Francis Crick Institute
Professor Eva Hoffman, Professor in Molecular Genetics, NNF Young Investigator, University of Copenhagen
Professor Elizabeth Sapey, Professor of Acute and Respiratory Medicine, University of Birmingham
Dr Zania Stamataki, Senior Lecturer in Liver Immunology, University of Birmingham and SUSTAIN Round 1 participant