School: School of Medicine, University of Leeds

Connection to the Academy: Received funding from the INSPIRE programme

Year: 2016-17

INSPIRE Lead: Professor Phil Quirke FMedSci

The INSPIRE programme has had a multitude of impacts over the course of the grant with many noticeable effects taking place. Benefitting from a vibrant postgraduate clinical and dental academic training programme, the University of Leeds successfully linked undergraduate societies to the academic foundation programme and the postgraduate academic training programme themes. As a result, there has been enhanced engagement between undergraduate students, student societies early career clinical academic trainees and senior clinical academics.

What are the main learning points taken away from implementing and running the INSPIRE programme?

After identifying that it is important to maintain an active ‘research’ presence at all stages of undergraduate training, the University of Leeds Medical School sought to build on the momentum established through previous INSPIRE awards. It is also essential to establish contact with undergraduate student groups early in the academic year to enable relationships to be built between undergraduates and clinical academic research themes. Maintaining an active research presence was achieved through activities such as:

  • A half day research taster visit to the biomedical research campus linked to our major teaching hospital.
  • Promotion of clinical academic research events organised by undergraduate student societies.
  • Summer schools.

There is significant interest in research opportunities within undergraduate medical and dental cohorts at all stages of their training. An enhanced understanding of academic career paths available to Leeds MBChB students has resulted in increased applications for academic foundation programmes. When undergraduate medical and dental students at Leeds are given the opportunity to undertake research, it is nationally/internationally competitive. Giving students the opportunity to present their work by providing bursaries of up to £500 to attend events results in valuable external recognition of their work and an enhanced capacity to develop new research collaborations. Reports from students that attended conferences can be found here.

Do you think the INSPIRE programme has had a positive impact?

The INSPIRE programme has had an overwhelmingly positive effect within the Medical School. Feedback from all events illustrates that students have a more thorough understanding of academic pathways which has helped to enthuse and galvanise them. By building on the momentum of previous rounds, the school has raised awareness about the opportunities available to undergraduate students, a vital component in allowing them to turn their initial interest in research into a full career as a clinical academic.

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