Significant funding of over £3.8 million has been awarded to the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Birmingham Centre, based at the University of Birmingham, to develop its clinical academic training programme.
Funded by Cancer Research UK, the Clinical Academic Training Programme Award will support nine programmes across the charity’s nationwide network of CRUK Centres to offer more flexibility and a greater variety of training options for clinician scientists, while providing training of the highest quality.
At the CRUK Birmingham Centre, this funding will cover annually two Clinical Research Training Fellowships for the next five years and two MB-PhDs from 2020 for four years.
This is the first time the University of Birmingham has offered the MB-PhD training route, enabling students to integrate their clinical education while building their research expertise through a PhD. The MB-PhD route will be available to undergraduate medical students intercalating after years three or four, and to graduate students after year one.
Students will benefit from support throughout their PhD, mentorship and continued contact with academia – helping to unite clinical practice with laboratory research and offering the chance to work in academic medicine or clinical medicine with cancer research at the forefront.
The new programme is vital to developing the skills of clinician scientists, with the UK suffering from a national shortage.
Scientific training provides valuable tools to research and develop new lines of investigation, translating key discoveries into improvements in cancer treatments such as rapid advances in immunotherapy and targeted therapy.
Professor Gary Middleton, Clinical Director of the CRUK Birmingham Centre at the University of Birmingham, said: “We are delighted with this most important award from CRUK which will significantly enhance the opportunities for clinical academic training in Birmingham.
“Unfortunately, we have more excellent applicants than we have places for and this goes a long way to solving that problem. We are particularly excited to be able to offer two MB-PhDs per year.
“This will be the first time we have been able to programmatically offer these positions and is a huge step in our wish to build a substantial cadre of locally trained young academic clinicians working in oncology related disciplines.”
The award to the CRUK Birmingham Centre forms part of a £50.7 million injection from CRUK to refresh its national clinical academic training programme over the next five years.
The initiative is designed to attract the next generation of oncologists with strong research backgrounds and improve the support given to this valued group of students.
Professor Charles Swanton, Chief Clinician at Cancer Research UK, said: “Clinical researchers play a vital role in helping us achieve our mission of seeing 3 in 4 people survive cancer within the next 20 years.
“Our new clinical academic training model will give early career clinician scientists the right combination of flexibility and support to flourish as future clinical research leaders.”
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