NIHR grants pave way for supporting research

Two of our Advanced Clinical Fellows (ACF) have been successful in obtaining prestigious National Institute for Health Care and Research (NIHR) PhD Fellowships, totalling more than £850,000. In addition, a Skills Enhancement Fund has been granted to one of our Clinical Lecturers.

Vicky Tsampasian, Cardiology ACF, has been granted a fellowship to pursue her research into providing a medication-based alternative for patients suffering from aortic stenosis, where the aortic valve narrows, and blood cannot flow normally.

NIHR Grants_collage“My research aims to investigate whether a medication can protect the heart muscle from irreversible damage in patients with aortic stenosis,” she said. “Currently, there is no form of medication to treat aortic stenosis or prevent the irreparable damage of the heart muscle that occurs during the course of the disease.”

Stephanie Smith, Urology ACF, has been granted her fellowship for prostate cancer research. “My project over the next three years will be looking at a new test for prostate cancer that has been developed at UEA called PUR (prostate urine risk) and its role in following up patients on active surveillance. The PUR test is based on analysing genetic material called RNA, which is extracted from a urine sample that can be collected by patients at home.

“Prostate cancer is very common, with as many as one in eight men being diagnosed with it during their lifetime. This research project is a fantastic example of how advancements in our understanding of cancer genetics, molecular biology and bioinformatics can be translated to the benefit of patients. I am delighted to have been awarded with fellowships from both the NIHR and the Royal College of Surgeons to support my training as an academic urologist.”

Both fellowships are due to start in October. In addition to the fellowship grants, Johannes Reinhold, Honorary Consultant in Cardiology, has been granted a Development and Skills Enhancement Award by the NIHR.

“I’ve been with NNUH for four years and my research currently focuses on how iron deficiency contributes to cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks,” he said.

“I am grateful for this grant, which will cover my research and training for the next six months, enabling me to further develop my research skills.”

All three academics have been supported by the Norwich Academic Training Office (NATO), led by Cardiology Consultant Prof Vass Vassiliou, providing mentorship and advice as well as networking opportunities and seed funding.