Starter Grants for Clinical Lecturers awardee

University of Bristol (Previously at University of Cambridge)

Improving the use of medicines in primary care – particularly in polypharmacy

To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the Starter Grants for Clinical Lecturers scheme we are pleased to feature case studies of past and present Starter Grant awardees. Dr Rupert Payne was awarded a Starter Grant for Clinical Lecturers in 2012. Here he tells us how the award allowed him to establish himself as an expert in his field of research and help his career progression to senior lecturer. He also highlights some of the main achievements of his research career so far.


Can you give us an overview of your research interests?

My research interests lie around the safe and rational use of medicines in primary care; I have a particular interest in polypharmacy – the use of multiple medicines in a single individual.

The use of many medicines is supported by strong scientific evidence. However, medicines can also be used inappropriately, leading to prescribing errors, side effects, patients not taking medicines the way they were intended, an unacceptable burden of treatment for patients, and the effectiveness of medicines not being fully realised. My research is focused on improving the use of medicines to address those concerns. This involves describing the patterns and consequences of inappropriate use of medicines and understanding what factors lead to these problems and why.

What was the impact of your Starter Grant?

My Starter Grant supported an application to use data from a large national database of general practice health care records (the Clinical Practice Research Datalink, CPRD) to examine whether the measures of inappropriate prescribing that are widely used in clinical practice were associated with patient harms. This project examined an important research question for both clinicians and policy makers. The Starter Grant was central in allowing me to develop a broader programme of work using electronic health data and to establish myself as an expert in this area. This resulted in a number of successful grants and papers, as well as progression to the role of Senior Lecturer.

What skills does a researcher of the future need?

I have found curiosity and a willingness to think “out of the box” are valuable attributes as a researcher, although these need to be tempered by maintaining focus and direction on questions that matter. In addition, most research questions in primary care require a broad multidisciplinary approach, covering everything from epidemiology through to qualitative research, clinical trials through to systematic reviews. Having a high level of expertise in one area is useful but it is essential to be able to work effectively within a wider multidisciplinary team and necessitates good communication and time-management skills.

What’s next for you and your research?

I am currently growing a programme of research at the University of Bristol. This includes leading a £1.9 million clinical trial of an intervention to improve the management of polypharmacy, as well as a number of other studies aiming to improve the safe and effective use of medicines in primary care.


Research highlights

  • Promotion to Senior Lecturer at the University of Bristol in 2016
  • Developing CRPD research capacity at the University of Cambridge (former institution)

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