The Academy of Medical Sciences
The Academy of Medical Sciences

The grants will support early career scientists to establish their independent research careers over the next two years. 

University of Birmingham scientists recognised in the scheme include Dr Romy Froemer (School of Psychology), Dr Laura Kudrna (Institute of Applied Health Research) and Dr Tom Nightingale (School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences).

Springboard provides awards of up-to £125,000 to help newly independent biomedical scientists to launch their research careers. Along with the funding, Springboard recipients benefit from the Academy’s mentoring opportunities and career development programmes.

Dr Romy Froemer’s award is to study the computational, neural, and neurochemical underpinnings of motivational impairments. Motivational impairments are not only debilitating, but also common in psychological and neuropsychiatric disorders, including Parkinson’s disease. People are motivated to invest effort when they think that the benefits of doing so outweigh its costs. This cost benefit decision is influenced by the degree to which people think their effort matters for achieving desired outcomes - efficacy. Romy will investigate whether irregularities in evaluating efficacy underpin motivational impairments in Parkinson’s patients off medication and whether these efficacy evaluations are improved under dopamine medication. This work will open new paths for much needed treatments for motivational impairments.

I am delighted to receive this award and can’t wait to dig in and do this work, and hopefully make some progress on this important issue

Dr Romy Froemer

Laura Kundra’s project is to develop a culturally sensitive measure of the experience of meaningful work among healthcare workers. Work might not always bring joy or happiness in a hedonic wellbeing sense, but it may feel meaningful in an experiential eudemonic sense. It is important to capture and understand these moments, particularly for a diverse population struggling with continued challenges including high patient demand and staffing shortages.

I am pleased to receive this award and look forward to working with excellent colleagues and supportive advisors to deliver on the work

Dr Laura Kundra

Dr Tom Nightingale is investigating how non-invasive electrical stimulation of the spinal cord (via electrodes placed on the skin) can normalise cardiovascular and immune responses to exercise in individuals with spinal cord injury. By activating dormant spinal sympathetic circuits, this approach could increase the health benefits associated with long-term exercise training in people with spinal cord injury, improving their quality of life and decreasing health care costs.

I am extremely grateful to receive one of the 2024 AMS Springboard awards. This award will allow me to expand my spinal cord injury research at the University of Birmingham, while also benefiting from the mentorship and career development opportunities provided by the Academy

Dr Tom Nightingale

The programme assists researchers across the full breadth of biomedical science, from molecular biology through to public health. Projects funded this year will advance understanding across a diverse range of health areas including cancer, antimicrobial resistance, musculoskeletal conditions, and mental health.

The Springboard programme is supported by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), Wellcome, British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK. Applications for the next Springboard round from applicants based at eligible institutions will open in spring 2024.