There is now less than one month left to apply for the only RCP fellowship that is specifically available for the promotion of medical research within Wales. Dr Olwen Williams talks to the current fellow, Dr Anna Scholz, and some of her predecessors.
The Lewis Thomas Gibbons Jenkins (LTGJ) Award was established in honour of the late Nancy Crawshaw, and provides funds for travelling bursaries, with an emphasis on training for research linked with Wales, or for research into any aspect of physical disease prevalent in Wales.
Dr Anna Scholz is the current LTGJ fellow.
She says: ‘The Lewis Thomas Gibbon Jenkins Award has allowed me to undertake an MD, pay for courses, training and travel, and even a specialist computer for data heavy neuroimaging processing. Although it does not fund the salary, it covers the extra costs of research, including MD fees, courses and publication costs: this makes a really big impact.’
Dr Sam Rice, RCP regional adviser for south-west Wales, agrees:
‘I was fortunate to be awarded the LTGJ funding from the RCP in 2005. It was the major grant I received to support my PhD, which I completed in 2009.’
Dr Scholz is studying the effect of the thyroid on the brain. She says the award has given her the opportunity and freedom to develop a wide variety of new skills:
‘It has allowed me to be more flexible with my clinical working hours, as the award covers a lot of the extra costs of research. With my MD fees paid for, it has given me access to even more training courses and support offered through the university. I have been able to develop research and management skills I would not have been unable to otherwise, which will help me throughout my career.’
The last postholder was Dr Justyna Witczak, who was supported by the LTGJ award during her MD project on characterisation of circulating extracellular vesicles in human obesity. She says: ‘I always wanted to combine research and clinical work in my job plan, and winning the LTGJ fellowship allowed me to take up a full academic post for 2 years. This led to a consultant post with two research sessions in the job plan, allowing me to continue to develop my research interests.
‘Being involved in clinical research makes my job more interesting and varied and allows me to take a break from a hectic clinical job to focus on other projects. Working with colleagues from other hospitals and universities has been a rewarding experience and provided a great platform for potential future collaborations.’
‘It is the only research funding specifically available to physicians based in Wales, and as such, I felt honoured to be a recipient,’ Dr Rice adds.
Dr Scholz would encourage applicants to get involved: ‘The exact use of the award is flexible (within limits) and you are able to tailor it to your needs, and the RCP have been so helpful and supportive.’
Don’t delay! If you are a trainee doctor working on a research project in Wales and would like some extra help with your costs, you have until Sunday 4 July 2021 to apply.