Winners announced for RCGP & SAPC Awards for Outstanding Early Career Researchers

21 May 2021

Academic GP Award Winner: Dr Samuel Seidu

Dr Samuel Seidu

What is your main area of interest, and how did that develop?

My main area of research is in diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

My research career started after CCT during which I focused my clinical development on diabetes. In 2010, I led an implementation work on errors in diagnosis and coding of diabetes in Leicester city. This formed part of my MSc in diabetes at the University of Leicester. After the MSc, I became the diabetes clinical lead and mentor in my practice and in the city of Leicester.

I enrolled on an MD programme between 2014 to 2017 and evaluated the effects of a multi-factorial quality improvement strategy targeted at primary care health professionals on management of people with diabetes. I continued my clinical development in primary care diabetes through conferences and teaching on the “Effective Diabetes Education Now”(EDEN) project in Leicester. This comprehensive training package which I helped evaluate as part of my MD, aims to up-skill healthcare professionals to provide high levels of diabetes care, reduce hospital admissions and support appropriate referrals to specialist care. EDEN was the national winner at the 2017 Health Service Journal (HSJ) Value in Healthcare Awards.

My MD work contributed to the implementation and evaluation of the Leicester Model of care in diabetes.

In late 2019, I took up the post of a Clinical lecturer at the University of Leicester.

My postdoctoral research has focused mainly on medication safety in diabetes and cardiovascular disease in the elderly population. I have now chaired two international Consensus Reports on the management of diabetes in the primary care settings.

Having forged collaborations locally and internationally around the area of diabetes, I was appointed the chair of the Primary Care Study Group for the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) in September 2016. I am an Associate Editor for the Primary Care Diabetes Journal. In the UK, I am a board member of the Primary Care Diabetes Society (PCDS). I am also a local faculty member of the RCGP in Leicester.

What does your research involve?

Using large electronic data sets to conduct observational analysis, cluster randomised trials and pragmatic real-world studies, my research involves work around prescribing safety, de-prescribing and medication adherence in the elderly population with diabetes and cardio-metabolic conditions. I am also working in the area of therapeutic inertia in people with diabetes to understand the causes, outcomes and possible solutions. As primary care practitioner, I am also interested in association of various common biomarkers on important outcomes such as CVD, VTE and Type 2 diabetes. I am also interested in how primary care teams can translate available evidence into real patient benefit through the use of appropriate evidence-based models of diabetes care in the community settings.

What will the RCGP / SAPC Yvonne Carter Award enable you to do?

I intend to use this award to facilitate a collaborative meeting with fellow primary care academics abroad to help share ideas on the challenges of combining clinical work and research in the primary care setting as well explore the issues around management of large primary care data. The award now offers me an opportunity to advance my career towards becoming an independent primary care clinical research leader with a programme focus on medication safety in diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in the elderly population and quality improvement in diabetes care in primary care settings. This fits well into the vision for primary care in addressing the challenge of people living longer with multiple long-term conditions. Diabetes management is now mainly in the primary care setting and I believe that with my interest in the multi-morbid conditions of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases and holding a strategic role in the Leicester city CCG, nationally and internationally, I will be able to drive the NHS research agenda to benefit of the people with diabetes.

Based on your experience, what advice do you have for people who are interested in working in the research field?

Primary care research is a very rewarding career path that guarantees maximum job satisfaction not just through exposing the researcher to the latest evidence needed for patient care, but also through the generation of outputs that change millions of lives. Additionally, by varying the working week between clinical care and research, the clinical academic is less likely to burn out. My advice for anyone interested in a clinical academic career is to start very early as medical student, foundation trainee or during the registrar years. During these phases of the training, if one is lucky to have a research post, that facilitates an easier pathway along the research trajectory. If one does not have a research training post, they have to be willing to do the academic work outside of the usual clinical or educational commitments. Having research outputs in the form publications at these early stages of training puts one ahead in future fellowship applications which are extremely competitive. For those primary care clinicians that are post CCT, the in-practice fellowship is another route to consider.

Primary Care Scientist Award Winner: Dr Shoba Dawson

Dr Shoba Dawson

What is your main area of interest, and how did that develop?

My main area of research is inclusivity and diversity in patient and public involvement and engagement (PPIE) and evidence synthesis (including the involvement of diverse stakeholders).

My background is in Psychology. Through my first research role, I gained first-hand experience involving patients and the public in improving quality and patient safety through the development and piloting of various tools, which were valuable in informing the research design and direction. Being bilingual also enabled me to engage and work with diverse communities. This sparked my interest in PPI, and during this time, I became aware of the lack of diversity in PPI, which led me to undertake my PhD in this topic area. Through my PhD, I was also introduced to evidence synthesis research and the field of evidence-based health care. I am a key member of the National Institute for Health Research School for Primary Care Research Evidence Synthesis Working Group. I am keen to continue pursuing my research in PPIE and evidence synthesis to influence policy and practice.

What does your research involve?

My PhD involved undertaking a systematic review and a large piece of qualitative research where I undertook 54 interviews with researchers and South Asians (mainly those from India and Pakistan) participants. I wanted to find out researchers’ experiences of involving people from diverse groups in PPI and South Asian people’s experience of PPI. I have since developed links and worked closely with local community groups to ensure that they are involved in the research.

My main research interests lie in evidence synthesis, stakeholder engagement in evidence synthesis and improving diversity and inclusivity in PPIE and research participation. I am the lead author on a Cochrane systematic review, and most recently, I have completed a number of evidence synthesis projects to inform clinical decision making in primary care.

What will the RCGP / SAPC Yvonne Carter Award enable you to do?

My proposal focuses on working with PPI contributors from diverse community groups to understand what primary care research priorities matter to them. This will involve hosting two events with different community groups to identify their research priorities for primary care. These events will also help promote other primary care research activities within the Centre for Academic Primary Care, identify and recruit new PPI contributors and raise awareness of participation and PPI opportunities. This work will also allow me to strengthen existing relationships and foster new relationships with different community groups in Bristol. Understanding these priorities will ensure that future research on the development and testing of interventions are responsive to patients’ needs and ultimately translating into relevant policy and practice.

Based on your experience, what advice do you have for people who are interested in working in the research field?

Networking is vital, so do not shy away from reaching out to people. Network with people who not only share similar research interests locally/nationally but also more widely, for example, organisations such as SAPC, RCGP, NAPCRG, SPCR Schools.

Identify a mentor, preferably someone independent and, if possible, outside your institution. This will help you when you may lack confidence in deciding what to do next or when you may have a situation where you need advice from someone more experienced.

Think about diverse ways to disseminate your findings (e.g., beyond publication and academic conferences). Think about public engagement events, work with PPI contributors to produce a lay summary, which can be shared via social media, community groups, policy research briefs (if relevant). It is important to raise awareness about your research work as far and wide as possible.

Academia is challenging as it is highly competitive, and you experience a lot of disappointments, be it unsuccessful grant applications or publications. It is important to remember that you are not alone in this and keep trying.

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