Second round of future leaders takes flight

The Academy of Medical Sciences today celebrates as a second cohort graduates from our leadership development programme.

The Future Leaders in Innovation, Enterprise and Research (FLIER) programme was launched in 2019 to help train emerging leaders in life sciences to harness new discoveries in science, technology and medicine and help solve the biggest challenges in healthcare.

Eighteen individuals working in academia, industry, the NHS, government or the charity sector graduate today at a special online event with an address by UK Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance FMedSci. The group have taken part in a variety of meetings and workshops, received coaching and mentoring, spent time immersed in different organisations and worked on cross-sector projects. The skills and experiences they have gained from FLIER are already paying dividends, for example in helping them to win funding for research or gain new high-profile positions.

FLIER participant Professor Parveen Ali from the University of Sheffield researches gender-based violence, domestic abuse, and inequalities in health. Since joining FLIER, she has become Professor of Nursing and was appointed as the Editor-in-Chief of International Nursing Review (IRN).

Professor Ali said: “Both positions are extremely significant as I am the first ever Pakistani Professor of Nursing in the UK and the first ever Pakistani Editor-in-Chief of a highly reputable and international nursing journal like INR. I could not have achieved these milestones without the FLIER programme and the support I received from my FLIER cohort.”

Fellow FLIER, Professor Elizabeth Sapey from the University of Birmingham has worked with a group of scientists, patients and regulators, including cohort one FLIERs Dr Elin Haf Davies and Professor Alastair Denniston, to secure £2.2 million of government funding for research to understand and treat long COVID.

Professor of Cardiometabolic Health at the University of Glasgow and FLIER participant Professor Jason Gill leads a multi-disciplinary research group investigating the effects of lifestyle on vascular and metabolic diseases. Since joining the programme, he has piloted a study with British Cycling and HSBC to increase cycling amongst HSBC staff.

He is now leading a work package on increasing active commuting to tackle climate change. He explained: “I am thinking bigger about what is possible and becoming less worried about failing. This has led to me to take bigger risks and try new approaches.”

Based on the success of the first two cohorts, the FLIER programme will open for a third round early in 2022. The Academy is also convening a ‘Friends of FLIER’ group open to people from all sectors across the life sciences, in particular those working in industry or the NHS, as well as policymakers, science writers and people working in digital data and AI. Members of this network will not only promote the programme in their sectors but also give talks or provide immersion experiences for people in the next FLIER cohort.

Academy of Medical Sciences President, Dame Anne Johnson PMedSci said:

“Despite the challenges the life sciences sector has faced over the last eighteen months, those in the second cohort have grasped the opportunity to learn, connect and adapt themselves as leaders. We are proud to be there beside them as they build on these successes, grow their collaborations with each other and across cohorts, and deal with some of the most difficult challenges facing health and society.

“As this cohort takes flight, we look forward to welcoming a third cohort in 2022. We continue to encourage connections forged between past and current FLIERs and support this growing network of emerging leaders.”

The FLIER programme is generously supported by the Dennis and Mireille Gillings Foundation and the Government Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy ‘Investment in Research Talent’ fund.

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