Medical School secures £1.14 million to support undergraduate research opportunities

Gary Hughes

Kent and Medway Medical School (KMMS) has been successful in securing funding from National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) to support medical students expand their experience in research. The funds will support 28 KMMS students to undertake summer internships in research, and 21 students to study intercalated Master’s degrees over the next three years.

The funding marks a big step forward in realising the medical school’s vision to become a regional hub for high-quality research and knowledge exchange and commitment to high-quality clinical teaching and research, with strong collaborative partnerships with NHS Trusts across Kent and Medway. The research undertaken aims to build a bridge between the communities across the region, service providers within the local NHS Trusts and social care, and the academics and researchers at the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church University.

For medical students interested in pursuing academic careers, these opportunities help establish a pipeline to embed research experience throughout their studies. Alongside the Individual Research Project that is carried out in years 3 – 4, internship opportunities will now be available from year 1, and after year 3, KMMS students will also have the opportunity to undertake a funded intercalated degree. In this first year of funding, KMMS will be able to support eight students work in research internship programmes, and five students to intercalate.

Professor Sukhi Shergill, Co-Director of Research at KMMS, said: ‘This new funding is an important milestone in our ambition to create a research pipeline starting from medical student through junior doctors to senior clinical academics.  This is completely new funding for research in Kent that is only available because of the existence of our own medical school. This is fantastic news for us, the local NHS and the wider community that these doctors will serve.’

Professor Lisa Dikomitis, Co-Director of Research at KMMS, said: ‘This NIHR award allows us to further develop an inclusive, interdisciplinary research culture in our new medical school, and to put medical students at the heart of that development. We are already conducting cross-disciplinary research, this new funding will facilitate for our medical students to work with researchers from a wide range of academic and clinical backgrounds.’

This new funding aimed at encouraging students and young doctors into research is worth over £2 million to KMMS, its parent universities and the local NHS Trusts over the next three years.

It builds on funding already received from NIHR to fund seven Academic Clinical Fellows posts – the first of whom will join from September. These are doctors in the early stages of their speciality training, who will conduct research at KMMS alongside their clinical work in the local Trusts. In addition, there is money to support the development of the new Clinical Academic Training Office, which is being set up to support all clinical academic trainees, both undergraduate and postgraduate.