Sydney Health Partners has awarded five Research Translation Fellowships as part of its sharpened focus on building research translation capacity and capability in the workforce.

The inaugural Fellows are:

The Fellowships, each of up to two years’ duration, will provide protected time for the clinicians and researchers to upskill in research translation methods and implement health care improvement projects whilst remaining in their substantive position.

Director of Implementation Science, Dr Nicole Rankin says building the capabilities of clinician-researchers in the science of research translation is fundamental to the vision of Sydney Health Partners.

“I am delighted that we can support these five Fellows to grow their expertise and engage in the translation and up-scaling of their research across our health service partners,” she said.

Sydney Health Partners Executive Director, Professor Don Nutbeam, says the new Fellows were successful in a highly competitive process.

“We are very pleased to be able to support such able clinicians and researchers through Sydney Health Partners,” he said. “The standard of applications was very high and we are disappointed not to be in a position to support several other worthy applicants.”

Primarily funded by a Medical Research Future Fund Rapid Applied Research Translation grant awarded to Sydney Health Partners, the Fellows receive a salary stipend to enable them to dedicate up to half their time each week to research.

Dr Alan Ma says this helps to overcome a dilemma faced by many clinician-researchers.

“There’s always this tension when you’re a clinical academic - when do you do research and when do you do clinical work?” he said.  “So, the greatest thing that this fellowship does is free up some of my clinical time to really focus on that clinically-informed research.”

Merran Findlay regards her fellowship as a unique opportunity to advance translational allied health research.

“I think the fellowships are great for clinician-researchers who may not necessarily have a classic academic career track record but who are nonetheless strategically placed to implement evidence into practice and influence change in real-world clinical settings.”

The Fellows will also be supported by clinical and academic mentors plus stipends for learning and professional development.

Dr Nicholas Williams regards his fellowship as a great educational opportunity to learn about research translation whilst improving perinatal management of extremely preterm births through the development and implementation a state-wide framework for NSW.

“I’m relatively new to this process and it’s a great chance to work with others who’ve had experience in research translation and learn from them – and also to work with the other four fellows and learn from them along the way as well.”

Dr Jillian Eyles says fellowship provides her with research continuity at a crucial time in her career pathway.

“This fellowship is incredibly valuable for me because although we’d done the prework, our project needed support to get it to the next stage and securing funding for this kind of implementation research is very difficult.”

For Dr Robyn Sierla, the Fellowship is an opportunity to build better links between research and her clinical care as an occupational therapist treating lymphoedema.

“As clinicians we can see the problems and not do anything about it, and as researchers we can do something about it, but we won’t necessarily perceive the most pressing problems. So being able to do both things together is really exciting.”

The Fellowships will run until the end of June 2023 and Fellows must complete a research translation project which focuses on either implementation, scale up and impact, or health equity and access.

2021-23 Research Translation Fellowship Projects