We have systematically created and taken forward a number of activities for effective implementation of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers.
Career development of all academic staff is supported by annual staff development reviews, mentorship schemes, coaching and courses offered by the University’s Centre for Learning and Academic Development (CLAD). We have also developed a novel tailor-made career development programme for post-doctoral basic scientists, focussing on recognition of the postdoctoral training stage as a unique opportunity for making active career choices, with targeted support for those who demonstrate research excellence and aspire to independence. This includes the Birmingham Fellows Programme, implemented in 2011, with a second round in 2012 and a third round in 2013. Birmingham Fellows are junior investigators with research achievements of world-leading excellence and evidence of the most promising leadership potential.
Postdoctoral/Early Researcher Career Development
We have recently established a dedicated Post-Doctoral/Early Researcher Career development And Training (PERCAT) initiative that provides a wide variety of training and support opportunities for early career researchers, driven by their active involvement. This includes symposia, research speed dating events and dedicated grant and fellowship clinics providing grant writing advice by senior researchers as well as mock interview panels in support of fellows shortlisted for interview.
Successes and funding
These initiatives have contributed to our outstanding success in supporting researchers of all career stages in obtaining prestigious personal fellowship support. During the last 5 years 74 junior clinical academics were awarded externally funded Research Training Fellowships (e.g. MRC, Wellcome Trust, NIHR, CRUK, BHF, ARUK), 22 received clinician scientist fellowships and 5 senior clinical fellowships. Similarly, 20 early career basic science researchers succeeded in securing prestigious career development awards from the Wellcome Trust, BBSRC, and Royal Society amongst others and 7 secured a senior research fellowship.
The success of our clinical collaborations is reflected by our highly respected integrated clinical academic training pathway that has been commended by the NIHR, and Birmingham is in the top 25% of institutions for NIHR-funded training posts. Our Academic Foundation programme has established a reputation for excellence; 32% of applicants come from other universities and 98% of appointees reported Birmingham as their first choice.
Success is demonstrated by 75% of our Academic Clinical Fellows progressing to competitively funded personal fellowships (national average 35%) and overall success from all our aspirant clinical research fellows exceeds 50%, one of the highest rates in the country. This has resulted in 90% of all our clinical research fellows undertaking PhD/MD training receiving competitive fellowship funding.