Advanced Care Research Centre

Clinical Academics in Training

Researcher Dr Rose Penfold tells us about a recent conference in Belfast, where she picked up an award for best pre-doctoral plenary.

Following a competitive abstract submission process, I was invited to present my PhD work looking at the prevalence and outcomes of delirium (a form of acute confusion) in older adults presenting with a hip fracture at the Clinical Academics in Training Annual Conference (CATAC) in Belfast on 17th April 2024.

CATAC is an annual cross-speciality conference organised by the Academy of Medical Sciences and supported by Wellcome. It brings together clinical academics from across the UK working in a variety of disciplines to present their work, and to develop networks with each other and senior researchers. It was a fantastic conference – an opportunity to understand the wider research landscape across the UK, to meet others with similar (as well as very different) research interests and experiences and to gain feedback from senior academics on my own ideas.

Clinical academics face many barriers throughout their careers, with uncertainties around funding, bottlenecks at certain career stages, and the constant challenge of trying to balance competing clinical and research priorities. Last year, the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee reported an alarming decline in the number of UK clinical academics and highlighted the risks of this to the long-term health and wealth of the country.  Events such as CATAC are so important to support the future of clinical academics in the UK in the face of ongoing challenge.

 It was a busy and engaging day of oral presentations, peer-led poster judging, and an inspiring keynote speech from paediatric ophthalmologist Dr Lola Solebo on her trailblazing research career in the epidemiology of rare childhood eye conditions.  And at the end of it all, I was absolutely thrilled to be awarded the prize for the best plenary presentation by a predoctoral researcher! This was judged by a panel of senior academics working in various fields. The award affirmed my own belief in the importance and value of my PhD work in multimorbidity and delirium and hopefully will help to raise the profile of ageing-related research more broadly. I received a lot of challenging (but useful!) questions and feedback from the panel and intend to incorporate this into my work moving forward.

 I would like to say a big thank you to the Academy of Medical Sciences for hosting this event, to my PhD supervisors Prof MacLullich, Prof Guthrie, Dr Anand and Mr Duckworth, to the ACRC and Department of Ageing and Health at the University of Edinburgh and to the Wellcome Trust, who fund my doctoral fellowship.

I would be more than happy to share my experience and would highly recommend the event to other clinical academics at the university.

Academy of Medical Sciences website:

Rose Penfold recieves award

Twitter: @rosespenfold