Cancer Research UK has awarded more than £6 million to its research centres in Edinburgh and Glasgow to train early-career doctors to carry out medical research, known as clinician scientists.
The joint Clinical Academic Training Programme will introduce new measures, including more flexible training options and improved mentorship and networking opportunities, It will better support women clinicians who want to get involved and stay in cancer research.
In particular, the programme will offer a new type of qualification – known as an MB-PhD – which allows doctors to study for a PhD earlier in their medical training.
Traditionally, becoming a clinician scientist involves doctors taking time out of training to undertake a PhD before returning to complete their medical specialism.
Many doctors – particularly women – do not return to research after qualifying as consultants. As a result, the number of clinician scientists in Scotland is in decline, particularly in senior posts.
The new programme will take a more continuous approach to mentoring clinician scientists both during and after their PhD. It will provide vital support to doctors when they apply for follow-on funding to continue their research. There will also be a focus on building a stronger clinician scientist network in Scotland.
Clinician scientists play an essential role in cancer research, helping to bridge the gap between patients and scientific research.
Working in both the clinic and the laboratory, they uniquely placed to ensure the needs of people with cancer are taken into account when new treatments and tests are being developed.
We are delighted to have secured this Cancer Research UK funding and to work with colleagues at the University of Glasgow to offer new and flexible training opportunities for doctors who will become the clinical cancer research leaders of the future. This will undoubtedly lead to benefits for Scottish cancer patients in the long term.
Professor Moira Whyte, Head of the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh
The CRUK Edinburgh Centre is a partnership between the University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian.