SUSTAIN is a programme that enables women in research to thrive in their independent research careers. It provides an innovative programme of training and support to develop participants’ leadership and career potential.
Applications for SUSTAIN Round 8 are now closed.
Not enough female researchers are securing senior leadership posts in the UK. A concerted effort is needed to ensure women are appropriately supported along their career trajectory to enable them to secure those senior positions.
Our SUSTAIN programme provides female researchers a fantastic opportunity to benefit from individualised support tailored to their career needs.
Dr Janet Kumita, a participant in the latest cohort shares what she is hoping to learn:
We are delighted to announce the 24 SUSTAIN participants starting their year-long programme on Tuesday 8 November 2022. As in previous rounds, applicants were chosen randomly and stratified by location and funder. All applicants are grant awardees funded by the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Medical Research Council, the Royal Society or the Royal Academy of Engineering. The programme will provide the participants with a range of innovative training and support opportunities to develop and refine their leadership and career potential.
SUSTAIN round 7 participants:
Dr Giorgia Maria Bosi, RAEng Research Fellow, University College London
Dr Claire Bourke, Sir Henry Dale Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Lecturer in Infection and Immunology, Queen Mary University of London
Dr Dhanya Cheerambathur, Sir Henry Dale fellow, University of Edinburgh
Dr Anissa Chikh, lecturer in cell biology, St George's University of London
Dr Catriona Douglas, Consultant Head and Neck Surgeon, University of Strathclyde
Dr Ana Duarte Cabral, Royal Society University Research Fellow, Cardiff University
Dr Anjali Hinch, Principal Investigator, University of Oxford
Dr Jamilla Hussain, Consultant in Palliative Medicine and Senior Research Fellow, Bradford Institute for Health Research
Dr LucyJackson-Jones, Lecturer in Biomedicine, University of Lancaster
Dr Deepa Jayakody Arachchillage, Consultant haematologist and Honorary senior lecturer, Imperial College London
Dr Katharina Kohler, Clinical Lecturer, University of Cambridge
Dr Janet Kumita, MRC Career Development Award Fellow and Group Leader, University of Cambridge
Dr Suzanne Madgwick, Research Fellow, Newcastle University
Dr Laura McCoy, Associate professor and MRC Career Development Fellow, University College London
Dr Madhvi Menon, Research Fellow, University of Manchester
Dr Beth Mortimer, Associate Professor in Animal Biology and Royal Society University Research Fellowm, University of Oxford
Dr Anna Reed, Consultant in Lung Transplant Medicine, Imperial College School of Medicine
Dr Imogen Riddell, RS URF, University of Manchester
Dr Lara Roberts, Consultant Haematologist, King's College London
Dr Stephanie Shoop-Worrall, MRC Career Development Fellow, University of Manchester
Dr Anna Slater, Royal Society URF and Senior Lecturer (proleptic), University of Liverpool
Dr YurikoSuzuki, Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow, University of Oxford
Dr Helen Weavers, Group Leader. Wellcome Trust & Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Fellow, University of Bristol
Dr Eleanor Winpenny, Senior Research Associate, MRC epidemiology unit
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 workshops 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 • Negotiation • Setting up a research team for success • Developing your leadership style
A peer support network
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.
SUSTAIN supports 24 women for a period of one year. Only award holders from the following partner organisations are eligible.
Medical Research Council
Career Development Award
Clinician Scientist Fellowship
New Investigator Research Grant (NIRGs)
Clinical Academic Partnership Grants
MRC Investigators (Programme Leader Track only)
Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship
Sir Henry Dale Fellowship
University Research Fellowship
Academy of Medical Sciences
Academy of Medical Sciences/The Health Foundation Clinician Scientist Fellowship
Starter Grant Award for Clinical Lecturers
Royal Academy of Engineering
Engineering for Development Research Fellows
In February 2022, we published the findings of an independent evaluation of the SUSTAIN programme, which looked at the lasting impact the programme has had since it first started in 2015. SUSTAIN was found to be strikingly successful, with over 90% of evaluation participants saying the programme was helping them thrive as independent researchers. You can find visual highlights of this report here:
We also work to support individuals and organisations who are developing their own programmes similar to SUSTAIN. If you are looking to develop your own programme, you can explore our new toolkit here.
“SUSTAIN is the first programme that is tailored specifically towards women at the beginning stages of their independent careers. By integrating a range of approaches, SUSTAIN enables new PIs to develop their own, personal leadership styles needed for their successful progression as scientists.”
Professor Eva Hoffman, SUSTAIN reference group
“Trying to build a career, deliver high quality science and raise a family can seem daunting. But you are not alone and many of the challenges faced by women in research are shared. SUSTAIN offers a structured programme of training and mentorship coupled with the opportunity to learn from and share with people who have walked (or are walking) in your shoes.”
Professor Elizabeth Sapey, SUSTAIN reference group
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.