BHF Research Accelerator Award 2019-24

The University of Birmingham is one of six universities in the UK to receive a British Heart Foundation (BHF) Accelerator Award in recognition of its excellence in cardiovascular research – in particular, atrial fibrillation (AF) and heart failure, thrombo-inflammation and vascular biology.

The £1.1 million award is being used to support cardiovascular research in Birmingham, from discovery science to patient benefit, that is coordinated in the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences (ICVS) and translated uniquely by Birmingham Health Partners (BHP) – a strategic alliance between the University and two NHS Foundation Trusts: University Hospitals Birmingham and Birmingham Women’s and Children’s. Research enabled by the grant will be supported by Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust (SWBH)

The award has been used to support the following:

  • Early Career Researchers
  • Interdisciplinary research
  • Translational research
  • Team Science
  • PPI
  • EDI

Grant panel

In the first four years of the award, early career researchers, interdisciplinary researchers and clinicians were able to apply for small grants (up to £25,000) that assessed by a grant panel which met on four occasions each year.  The panel was chaired by Professor Andy Clark in the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing as independent voice.

The panel considered applications from the following groups:

  • Early career researchers included final year PhD students, postdoctoral fellows and newly appointed fellows and lecturers.  A key criterion in the applications was how the grant would support applications for fellowships and project grants. 
  • Interdisciplinary researchers included applicants from the College of Physical Sciences and Engineering.  All applications were submitted with one or more named principal scientists in the university (primarily ICVS).
  • Clinical researchers were primarily full-time consultants with an interest in experimental medicine, with all applications submitted with one or more named principal scientists in the university (primarily ICVS).

In total, over 50 grants were awarded with an average level of funding of £10,000.  Several awardees have since gained externally reviewed fellowships and/or university positions. 

  • Karina Bunting*               BHF fellowship for Allied Health Professionals
  • Caroline Kardeby             EU Marie-Curie Fellowship and Lectureship (Aston)
  • Abdullah Khan**             Wellcome Trust Henry Wellcome Fellowship
  • Chris O’Shea*                   Wellcome Trust Henry Wellcome Fellowship
  • Julie Rayes*                       BHF Intermediate Fellowship

*will take up a permanent position in ICVS at the end of the award

**applying for fellowships through the University of Oxford

The Accelerator has been used to recruit Dr Jamie Guggenheim who holds a Royal Society University Research Fellowship to ICVS and Electrical Engineering to develop photoacoustic imaging through the provision of start-up funds.

Research support

The Accelerator has also been used to a research nurse which has been continued by the award of a Biomedical Research Centre grant to the university to support research in thromboinflammatory disease (to 2027) and to provide specialist support in advanced imaging and animal studies.