Academic Clinical Fellowships

ACF PROGRAMME IN WOMEN'S HEALTH

The ACF programme in Women’s Health is based in The Women’s Centre, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, which cares for >7,000 pregnant women and >9,000 new gynaecology patients per year. It is also a tertiary centre for feto-maternal medicine, pre-natal diagnosis, endometriosis, reproductive medicine, IVF and gynaecological oncology. Research facilities and lab space are within the Nuffield Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology (NDOG), which benefits from a strong combination of clinical practice and basic science to inform its research, teaching and clinical expertise.

The programme also benefits considerably from being incorporated into the Oxford University Clinical Academic Graduate School (OUCAGS), which was founded in partnership with the Oxford Deanery and NHS Education South Central to promote and advance clinical academic careers. Oxford’s world-leading biomedical and clinical research environment offers outstanding opportunities to combine comprehensive clinical, academic and research training for those with the ambition and motivation to shape the future of medicine (www.oucags.ox.ac.uk).

Since 2007, we have recruited to 6 ACF posts in Women’s Health at ST1-2, two of whom already had a PhD.  Most of the clinical training is in Oxford, with periods in DGHs in the Oxford Deanery to give a greater range of clinical experience. Each ACF has 3 months of protected time per year for research, without any clinical commitments. In some cases, ACFs have been able to merge two blocks to give an uninterrupted period of 6 months’ research.

From the time of appointment, each ACF is attached to an academic mentor who has regular meetings with the trainee and his/her clinical supervisor.  A committee consisting of academic and clinical representatives manages the overall programme.  Academic milestones focus on developing generic research methods in Year 1 moving to preliminary work in Year 2 to support the submission of an application for peer-reviewed funding in Year 3.  The milestones set are strongly influenced by the standards laid out in the 'Gold Guide' and the need to attain the relevant clinical competencies.

The trainees are given considerable support to help them identify a research opportunity that they wish to pursue within the Women's Health Theme of the Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) or any of the other research programmes within NDOG. Thereafter, a continuous assessment process and mentorship over the programme, with input from peers, colleagues and senior academics, maximises the chances of the trainees developing a successful higher degree training fellowship or award. 

The research activities within the BRC Women’s Health Theme, with which the Academic Programme is closely integrated, include: a) New screening methods for pre-eclampsia and IUGR based on (i) biomarker detection (Ian Sargent) and (ii) 3D ultrasound in early pregnancy (Lawrence Impey and Aris T. Papageorghiou); b) Microarray technology to produce rapid, cost-effective methods of detecting mitochondrial and nuclear DNA mutations for PGD and prenatal diagnosis (Jo Poulton & Dagan Wells), and c) Biomarkers, imaging and surgical innovations in endometriosis for novel diagnostics, drug discovery, patient stratification in clinical trials and improved outcomes (Enda McVeigh & Christian Becker). 

Opportunities also exist to join other groups in NDOG: a) Genetic epidemiology of endometriosis (Stephen Kennedy & Krina Zondervan); b) Stem cells and implantation (Helen Mardon); c) Fetal growth and development within the INTERGROWTH-21st Study (José Villar, Aris T. Papageorghiou & Stephen Kennedy); d) Reproductive Medicine (Tim Child & Enda McVeigh), e) Gynaecological oncology (Ahmed Ahmed), and f) a growing number of international studies in maternal health associated with the Oxford Tropical Medicine Network.

For further information, please contact Stephen Kennedy (01865 221003; Lorraine.Stayt@obs-gyn.ox.ac.uk)