A lecturer in pharmaceutical microbiomics has won The Pharmaceutical Journal and Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s (RPS’s) inaugural ‘Outstanding Pharmacy Early-career Researcher Award’ (OPERA) for his work on microbiome analysis and its functional exploitation for pharmaceutical and healthcare applications.
Stephen Kelly, who teaches at Queen’s University Belfast School of Pharmacy, will have his work covered in The Pharmaceutical Journal and will be invited to give a presentation on his research at the RPS Annual Conference in November 2023.
Kelly currently leads a research group focusing on the links between the human and clinical microbiomes, with pharmacotherapy and healthcare outcomes.
Having started his career as a community pharmacist in 2012, Kelly is now a highly respected bio-informatician, driving research that addresses some of the biggest challenges facing healthcare.
His research is always geared towards directly impacting practice and improving how pharmacy can contribute to positive health outcomes.
OPERA was launched to recognise and celebrate the work of researchers working within pharmacy who demonstrate potential to achieve world-leading status and can act as role models, inspiring others to enter and persevere with research careers.
On being awarded the prize, Kelly said: “I am delighted to receive the 2023 OPERA prize in recognition of our research into the effects of the microbiome on health outcomes.
“This award reflects the hard work of various collaborative projects and highlights the impact of investigating such an important area of pharmacy research.”
Victoria Speed, a senior anticoagulation pharmacist and clinical informatician at King’s College Hospital and the University of Oxford, was also recognised as ‘highly commended’ by the award’s judging panel for her research that used pharmacokinetic (PK) modelling and real-world data to show that fixed dose rivaroxaban can be used in extremes of body weight.
Speed’s research has led her to answer significant clinical questions arising from daily practice with global impact. Her PK model, published in 2020, resulted in a change to international prescribing guidance for direct oral anticoagulants in 2021.
She also co-ordinated a root-cause analysis when a sudden spike in international normalised ratio results for warfarin patients was observed during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. This work resulted in the early identification of a major patient safety risk and an alert was issued by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
Speed commented: “I am delighted that myself and fellow early-career researchers in pharmacy have been able to share our work within the scope of the new OPERA. I hope that this prize will motivate others to pursue their research ambitions within pharmacy.”
Parastou Donyai, chief scientist for the RPS and one of the competition’s judges, said: “When we launched OPERA in November 2022, we hoped to inspire early career researchers to submit their applications for the award, but of course had little idea who or how many might engage with the process. We were utterly delighted to receive so many high-quality applications.
“As a result, the shortlisting itself was a very difficult exercise as was the selection of one final winner. In the end, we chose one winner and another received a commendation. Both have achieved phenomenal success for their career stage and show huge potential as future leaders in their respective pharmacy fields. My heartfelt congratulations to both.”
Click here to see the full OPERA 2023 shortlist