FLIER future leaders will transform the landscape



The latest blog from our President, Professor Sir Robert Lechler PMedSci, looks at our newest programme.

I am extremely proud that the Academy will launch a leadership programme unlike any other this week.

FLIER will bring together a group of 17 future leaders for a two year long immersive, collaborative and cross-sector learning experience. The journey they take will help equip them to break down barriers in the sector and address some of the most complex health challenges our society faces.

This new leadership approach has the potential to transform the current and future research landscape through innovation of research, and infrastructure development, leading to new ways to prevent and treat disease in the UK and beyond.

A knowledge melting pot

Our FLIER participants have been carefully selected from sectors across the medical science ecosystem, and include an intellectual property lawyer, a charity sector policy expert, a clinical academic who is an expert in palliative care, and a biomedical researcher who has set up a digital health company.

Each participant brings a wealth of knowledge to share about their own sector, combined with a desire to find new ways to tackle a pressing health problem that would, if solved, improve lives.

The Academy sits at the intersection of sectors, including academia, the NHS, industry and the charity sector, giving FLIER participants the opportunity to connect across the whole biomedical landscape. The launch event this week will see the FLIER participants rubbing shoulders with current leaders in biomedical and health science, including the UK’s Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Advisor, the Executive Chair of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the President of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry and the Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation.

FLIER future leaders will spend the rest of this year in a series of innovative leadership workshops, attending immersion days in other organisations across the sector, and working with a dedicated coach. In 2020, each participant will lead on a project that requires them to work collaboratively to try to solve a specific challenge. Feedback from this cohort of participants will help shape the programme for future rounds.

Breaking down barriers to solve health challenges

FLIER is a strategic priority for the Academy: we know that maximising the future opportunities of the digital and genetic revolution, in a time of political and financial uncertainty, will depend on leaders who can transcend traditional scientific and sector boundaries and find dynamic new ways to improve health.

My own experience working at the interface of the NHS, industry and academia has shown me that different sectors have different cultures and languages, which can make joint problem solving a challenge few can overcome. We also need to break down barriers across traditional scientific disciplines to make progress; the Academy’s landmark report on team science provided a road map to overcoming barriers to progression that researchers in multidisciplinary teams may face.

The Academy is uniquely placed to address these very significant challenges. The brain trust of our Fellowship, and our contacts in government, the NHS, academia and industry, bring expertise and knowledge that will help the cohort navigate challenges and harness opportunities. 

FLIER has been two years in development, the Academy has worked closely with a steering group of experts drawn from academia, industry and the NHS, alongside award winning leadership consultants Cirrus. We are very grateful to the Dennis and Mireille Gillings Foundation and the UK government through their investment in research talent for funding the development of this innovative scheme.

Getting involved

As the inaugural FLIER cohort begin the programme, there are further opportunities to get involved. We will be seeking applications for the 2020 FLIER cohort in August 2019, and organisations can apply to host FLIER immersion days in 2020 and 2021 now.

There will also be opportunities to share the knowledge we gain while further developing and implementing FLIER. We will do this thorough evaluating the scheme and sharing what we learn widely. The Academy has a long history of sharing best practice, to give just one example, the knowledge gained from our successful Mentoring programme is now shared digitally and we donate our time and expertise to those wanting to set up new schemes.

It is our aspiration to become a beacon for a new, connected type of leadership in research and to share this knowledge in the UK and internationally. The skills developed by these future leaders are of the calibre that will help us make progress with ambitions such as those set out in the Grand Challenges in the UK Industrial Strategy.

Hope for the future

With increasing strain on our healthcare systems, political uncertainty and complex health challenges such as growing rates of obesity and dementia, it would be easy to feel negative about the future.

Yet this scheme, and the calibre of talent in the first cohort of FLIER, gives me great hope for the future. By developing leaders who think differently, we stand a real chance of improving the health of future generations.

Round 2 will be open for applications in August 2019. Visit our FLIER Programme page to find out more.

For enquiries about the programme please contact FLIER@acmedsci.ac.uk.

To find out more about supporting the work of the Academy of Medical Sciences please visit our dedicated support us page.

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