Over £6.6m awarded to 54 emerging research leaders

The Academy of Medical Sciences has awarded over £6.6 million to 54 ‘exceptional’ biomedical and health researchers through the Springboard scheme, its largest funding round to date. The grants will support early career scientists to establish their independent research careers over the next two years. 

Springboard provides awards of up-to £125,000 to help newly independent biomedical scientists to launch their research careers. Along with the funding, Springboard recipients benefit from the Academy’s mentoring opportunities and career development programmes. 

This round brings the total investment into the next generation of research leaders through Springboard to over £36 million since the scheme began in 2015.  

The programme assists researchers across the full breadth of biomedical science, from molecular biology through to public health. Projects funded this year will advance understanding across a diverse range of health areas including cancer, antimicrobial resistance, musculoskeletal conditions and mental health. 

Among the new awardees are scientists from 37 institutions, including the University of Central Lancashire which has received Springboard funding for the first time. 

Beatriz Bano Otalora, from the University of Manchester, is exploring how exposure to light early in life impacts the biological clock. Current evidence indicates that postnatal lighting environment can affect the development of the circadian clock, resulting in long-lasting changes carried into adulthood. Her research will provide key insights into optimal maturation of circadian rhythms critical for long-term wellbeing. 

Beatriz said: "I am incredibly grateful for this Springboard award which will help me to establish my independent research group in the vibrant research community here at Manchester. I am very excited, and very much looking forward to taking the full benefit of the mentorship and networking opportunities provided by the Academy. 

"Biological clocks are a fundamental feature of life. Understanding how their function in adulthood can be affected by early-life lighting experiences will have the potential to inform new interventions to promote circadian health and improve developmental care practices to support optimal body clock maturation and prevent circadian disruptions in infants and adults." 

University of Nottingham’s Fiona Whelan aims to understand how certain bacteria can inhibit the growth of harmful pathogens that trigger respiratory symptoms in cystic fibrosis patients. Her research could lead to new microbial-based therapies to treat cystic fibrosis lung infections and reduce disease severity. 

Fiona said: “I am thrilled to have been given the chance with this Academy Springboard funding to explore the role of microbe-pathogen interactions using a novel in vitro model. A more complete understanding of what triggers respiratory symptoms in individuals with cystic fibrosis has the potential to improve its treatment and reduce its severity. 

Alex Pike, from the University of York, is studying the relationship between feelings of control, self-efficacy and eating disorder symptoms. Her research seeks to clarify why those with eating disorders often feel a lack of control over their actions, whether they subsequently seek greater control, and how this relates to their illness. The results could improve eating disorder treatments. 

Alex said: “I'm absolutely delighted to be one of this year's recipients of a Springboard award. As a new lecturer, this funding will allow me to pursue a line of research I've been excited about for some time. 

“People with eating disorders often say they feel control is an important driver of their symptoms - and yet we don't understand why this happens. Hopefully this research will allow us to refine our understanding of these complex disorders, and in the future lead to treatments that address this important issue for patients.” 

The Springboard programme responds to the Academy’s call for greater security and career development opportunities for health researchers, as highlighted in its Future Proofing UK Health Research report. By providing substantial funding and access to mentoring over two years, the programme aims to help emerging research leaders establish their independent research careers and contribute to a sustainable pipeline of research talent in the UK. 

Professor James Naismith FMedSci, Vice-President (Non-Clinical) at the Academy of Medical Sciences, said: “Scientists face immense challenges as they begin their careers, and the Academy recognises the hurdles early career researchers must navigate as they establish themselves, which is why initiatives like Springboard are vital. Through this unique programme, we are extremely pleased to support 54 exceptional scientists with our largest-ever round of funding.  

"The Academy, together with our partners, is committed to cultivating the next generation of biomedical research leaders and ensuring they have the resources and support necessary to realise their immense potential. By providing substantial financial backing and access to invaluable career development opportunities at this critical stage, we can enable talented researchers to deliver breakthroughs and innovations to improve human health." 

The Springboard programme is supported by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), Wellcome, British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK. Applications for the next Springboard round from applicants based at eligible institutions will open in spring 2024.

Full list of Springboard awardees for the latest round: 

  1. Maitreyi Shivkumar, De Montfort University 
  2. Carlo Breda, De Montfort University 
  3. Dorothy Tse, Edge Hill University 
  4. Leticia Monin Aldama, Imperial College London 
  5. Laura Martin-Sancho, Imperial College London 
  6. Sophie Morse, Imperial College London 
  7. Shivanand Hegde, Keele University 
  8. Ricci Hannah, King's College London 
  9. Ryuichi Fukuda, King's College London 
  10. Thomas Edwards, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine 
  11. Nathan Hodson, Manchester Metropolitan University 
  12. Rémi Zallot, Manchester Metropolitan University 
  13. Jack Leslie, Newcastle University 
  14. Alejandro Paredes, Queens University Belfast 
  15. Audrey Teh, St. George's, University of London 
  16. Alessandro Mongera, University College London 
  17. Mattia Francesco Maria Gerli, University College London 
  18. Emilie Hollville, University of Aberdeen 
  19. Jennifer Maher, University of Bath 
  20. Maria Victoria Chirou, University of Bath 
  21. Tom Nightingale, University of Birmingham 
  22. Romy Froemer, University of Birmingham 
  23. Laura Kudrna, University of Birmingham 
  24. Karthic Swaminathan, University of Bradford 
  25. Ian Cadby, University of Bristol 
  26. Camilla Godlee, University of Cambridge 
  27. Richard Bethlehem, University of Cambridge 
  28. Dylan Ryan, University of Cambridge  
  29. Philipp Ruhnau, University of Central Lancashire 
  30. Alison Dicker, University of Dundee 
  31. Marco Bocchio, University of Durham 
  32. Matthew Sullivan, University of East Anglia 
  33. Honor Bixby, University of Essex 
  34. Yanfeng Zhang, University of Exeter 
  35. Thomas Laver, University of Exeter 
  36. Andrew Davidson, University of Glasgow 
  37. David Beal, University of Kent 
  38. Yolanda Markaki, University of Leicester 
  39. Juan Fernando Quintana, University of Manchester 
  40. Beatriz Bano Otalora, University of Manchester 
  41. Alexandra Davies, University of Manchester 
  42. Fiona Whelan, University of Nottingham 
  43. Joseph Sollini, University of Nottingham 
  44. Rachel Tanner, University of Oxford 
  45. Odile Harrison, University of Oxford 
  46. David Rusling, University of Portsmouth 
  47. Aidan Taylor, University of Reading 
  48. Luke Green, University of Sheffield 
  49. Emily Brookes, University of Southampton 
  50. Joanne Hobbs, University of St Andrews 
  51. Lisa Holbrook, University of Surrey 
  52. Noemie Hamilton, University of York 
  53. Kim Robinson, University of York 
  54. Alexandra Pike, University of York 

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