- Course studied: Clinical Lectureship
I am a Clinical Academic Fellow in Clinical Microbiology at the University of Leeds, Honorary Clinical Scientist in microbiology at Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust and an HEE/NIHR ICA Clinical Lecturer. I completed my PhD on Antibiotics and C. difficile with Prof Mark Wilcox in 2001, which was the start of a career-long interest in this organism. After a post-doctoral position in Prof. Wilcox' lab, I moved to the NHS in 2005 to train as a clinical scientist, specialising in healthcare associated infections, and helping to establish the Healthcare Associated Infections Research group at Leeds - a multi-organisation research group bringing together academics and scientists from University of Leeds, Leeds Teaching Hospitals and Public Health England. My particular research interests are antimicrobial resistance in C. difficile, gut dysbiosis and paediatric CDI. I established and developed the highly successful in vitro gut model of C. difficile infection at Leeds, and was also involved in the creation of the C. difficile ribotyping network (CDRN). After having two children, I returned to work part-time, leading a 5 year Pan-European ClosER study, looking at C. difficile epidemiology and antimicrobial resistance, establishing antimicrobial susceptibility data and identifying emerging ribotypes with multiple antimicrobial resistance.
As my children grew a bit older, I felt able to think about where I wanted my career to go. In 2019, I was awarded an HEE/NIHR ICA Clinical Lectureship to look at the role of C. difficile in infant diarrhoea. This award, with its bespoke training package allows me to strengthen and develop the skills I need to become a clinical academic leader in my field. This given me the confidence to successfully apply for a major MRC grant in 2020, and to take up a formal position as Clinical Academic Fellow at the University of Leeds. Furthermore, it has opened up new networks of fellow clinical academics here at Leeds, and beyond. This is a huge, innovative and supportive community to be part of and has led to my being appointed as an NIHR Research Advocate for Healthcare Scientists. I work with friends and colleagues across the UK to foster research careers and opportunities for healthcare.
My pathway to a clinical academic career, like many non-medics, is not smooth or linear. However, the flexibility and bespoke nature of the ICA scheme means that although I also have a busy home-life as a single parent to two children, I am still able to pursue my clinical academic career. I really enjoy mentoring other aspiring clinical academics at all levels, and hopefully bringing the same enthusiasm and support that I received from the ICA community in Leeds to their aspirations and plans.