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Thursday, 20 April 2017

Learning from the Experts: Clinical Academic Training

Written by Dr Annabelle Machin & Dr Randula Haththotua | @PCSciences | keele.ac.uk/pchs | Published 20th April 2017  


On Thursday 6th April 2017, the Research Institute for Primary Care and Health Sciences ('RI') at Keele University hosted a Clinical Academic Training event which brought together clinical academic trainees from the universities of Birmingham, Keele and Warwick. The event was chaired by the RI's Professor Carolyn Chew-Graham, Director of Clinical Academic Training, who brought both trainees and experts together to discuss the merits of different research methods and give trainees the opportunity to showcase their research through both oral and poster presentations. GP Academic Clinical Fellows, Dr Annabelle Machin and Dr Randula Haththotuwa, have summarised the day in this week's blog. 

Lorna Clarson, Academic Clinical Lecturer 
Dr Lorna Clarson, an Academic Clinical Lecturer (Keele University) kicked off the event, providing valuable advice on how to navigate clinical academic training and develop a competitive CV. In short, she emphasised the importance of developing a strong research network and finding inspirational mentors, whilst ensuring that you find the time to maintain a work-life balance. 

Feeling inspired from the first session, four of the trainees presented engaging oral presentations on their current research; 




Randula Haththotuwa, GP Academic Clinical Fellow
Randula Haththotuwa (GP Academic Clinical Fellow) was first to present her systematic review and meta-analysis of pre-eclampsia and future risk of cardiovascular disease, illustrating how pre-eclampsia is independently associated with an increase in future incidence of heart failure, stroke and death related to cardiovascular disease. 

Second to present was Dr Chun Shing Kwock (Honorary Clinical Lecturer at Keele University and Academic Clinical Fellow in Cardiology and Cardiology Registrar at University Hospitals of North Midlands), who discussed an interesting obesity paradox, where an elevated BMI is associated with reduced mortality after coronary angioplasty.

 William Scotton, Winner of Best Oral Presentation
Next up was Dr Rebecca Ward from the Department of Clinical Biochemistry (University Hospital of North Midlands) who presented an audit showing poor rates of postpartum screening for dysglycemia in women with gestational diabetes mellitus. She highlighted that patient education and shared responsibility for care are a way to ensure adequate monitoring.  

Best oral presentation prize winner, Dr William Scotton (Neurology Registrar and academic trainee, Birmingham) ended the first session by sharing his results from a survey, which explored the experiences of patients with idiopathic intracranial hypertension of diagnostic lumbar puncutres ('LP'). He discussed how pain and anxiety in relation to LPs, could be reduced by providing better pre-procedural information and by performing LP's in dedicated day-case units. Audience members highlighted the potential value of qualitative interviews to explore more detailed patient perspectives. 

 Lisa Dikomitis, Senior Lecturer
Five senior academics joined the event, presenting inspiring talks on each of their specialised research methodologies. Mamas Mamas, Professor of Cardiology (Keele University) focussed on 'cardiovascular big data', sharing examples of how his research using electronic data records has been used to answer research questions on quality, health economics, rate outcomes and risk/prognosis modelling in the real world setting with large population samples. Mamas was able to demonstrate how through 'the power of numbers', he has been able to answer questions not feasible through randomised controlled trials. 

Dr Clare Jinks, a Reader in Applied Health Research (Keele University) summarised 'mixed methods research', sharing interesting examples of how combining quantitative and qualitative methods within her projects has enabled her to respond to research questions in health services research. 

Focussing on qualitative research, Dr Lisa Dikomitis (Senior Lecturer in the Sociology of Health, Keele University) described the social construction of reality through her experiences of obstetric care. She was able to highlight how qualitative research can bring a new dimension that other research methods are unable to reach. 

Simon Davies, Nephrologist and Professor of Renal Medicine, presented an intriguing talk about making a trial a success. When designing a trial, he advised 'whatever the answer, try to make it interesting'. He resonated Lorna Clarson's earlier talk on the importance of strong collaboration and inspiring role models, leaving us with an inspiring quote from one of his previous mentors "Good researchers do trials that answer the right questions; excellent researchers find the smartest way of doing it". 

Finishing off the morning sessions was Professor of Epidemiology, Danielle van der Windt, highlighting how prognosis research can provide a better understanding of disease processes, predict outcomes and inform clinical decision making to improve outcomes. 

During the break, attendees were invited to network and take a look at the number of posters on display. A number of methodologies were present amongst the research showcased. Topics ranged from knee osteoarthritis, co-morbid mood problems, rheumatoid arthritis, peritoneal inflammation, readmissions after acute coronary syndrome and treatment of human papillomavirus associated disorders. The award for best poster presentation went to our very own Dr Annabelle Machin (GP Academic Clinical Fellow). 

Re-fueled, three more trainees showcased their research with an oral presentation. Amar Karia (Academic F2, Keele) presented their work on perinatal outcomes following antenatal detection of ventriculomegaly, highlighting that the majority of cases were mild with good outcomes. 

Matthew Tabinor (Renal Registrar and ACF, Keele) demonstrated that bioimpedance-defined overhydration predicted mortality rates in dialysis patients, emphasising the need for further research to explore the relationship between fluid overload, loss of lean body mass, structural myocardial changes and mortality amongst the dialysis population. 


Nuthana Prathivadi Bhanyankaram (Academic F2, Keele) was the last to present her research on patterns of musculoskeletal pain in children presenting to general practice. She reported how female children were more likely to consult with back pain with increasing age. 

The event was a success, not only inspiring the trainees but also providing us with a better understanding of the different methodologies and their role in producing excellent research. 

A special thanks goes to Claire Ashmore and Zara Richards for their organisation and help in ensuring that the event ran smoothly. 








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