Pharmacists wanting to undertake research as part of their careers are to benefit from a £30m funding package announced by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).
The annual funding, which will be offered to a range of health care professionals (HCPs), is aimed at strengthening research opportunities already available, expanding existing schemes and introducing new initiatives.
The extra funding will mean more undergraduates being able to access NIHR’s new national engagement programme, INSIGHT, which will expand to more than 300 places per year to attract students into research careers. Under the programme, higher education institutions can apply for funding to showcase the range of opportunities that research can offer for students.
Early-career researchers will have access to more internship opportunities and bursaries, with the existing pre-doctoral NIHR In-Practice Fellowship scheme set to expand to widen access for HCPs in primary and community care.
The NIHR Development and Skills Enhancement Award will expand to further accelerate early post-doctoral careers, and the New Generation Senior Clinical and Practitioner Research Award will prioritise HCPs at a post-doctoral level, providing flexible funding to balance clinical and research commitments over five years.
New NIHR regional research leadership offices will also be established to promote and coordinate opportunities at a regional level.
Anne-Maree Keenan, associate dean for the NIHR Academy, said the investment would create a “highly expanded community” of research HCPs “to sit alongside the already established medical academic communities, to effectively work together to deliver higher quality research”.
Diane Ashiru-Oredope, deputy chief scientist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, welcomed the increase in research opportunities for pharmacists.
“The £30m annual investment demonstrates recognition of the vital role that clinical- and practitioner-led research plays in advancing patient care,” she said.
“The initiatives to develop skilled researchers and leaders, especially in pharmacy, align with our collective goal of advancing the quality of patient care and driving innovation in healthcare through research. We look forward to continuing to support pharmacy professionals as they lead, deliver and participate in research.”