What is your job title?
I’m a Principal Medical Physicist in Nuclear Medicine.
Which NHS and academic institutions do you work for?
I work at the University College London Hospitals, NHS Foundation Trust and I’m a honorary Associate Professor at University College London in the Centre for Medical Imaging.
What do you like about being a clinical academic?
The autonomy to follow your own ideas.
Can you briefly describe how you became and developed as a clinical academic?
I was privileged to be able to do a PhD alongside my Clinical Scientist Training – this was back in the early ‘90s. After a bit of a rest I realised that I actually really enjoyed the flexibility in having a research career so I took a leap and found a post-doc position. I only intended to step out of the NHS for a few years but it ended up being about 10 years. Having stepped back into a full time NHS position I saw how important having protected research time was if you were really committed to any rigorous examination of new technology. I applied for a NIHR ICA Senior Lectureship and subsequently a Development and Skills Enhancement award both of which were successful. As a Clinical Scientist whether I have external funding or not research is an implicit part of how I do my job every day.
Give one example of where your work has changed practice?
The work I did for my PhD became part of the routine clinical analysis at the hospital I did my training in, for the differential diagnosis of Dementia when using brain SPECT imaging.
What advice would you give to a healthcare scientist who is an aspiring clinical academic?
“If you don’t ask you don’t get”. Cold email scientists whose work you are interested in, don’t be scared. We are human and love to talk about our work and are terribly flattered by anyone who would like to work with us.