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10th August 2023

Health and Care Research Wales Faculty launches new Associate Membership scheme

Health and Care Research Wales is pleased to announce the launch of our new Faculty Associate Membership scheme, opening up a range of support opportunities to health and social care researchers who have received funding from wider sources.

The scheme will enable individuals who are successful in UK-wide personal fellowship schemes, and early career researchers receiving funding from the Health and Care Research Wales project grant schemes or other Welsh Government supported competitive funding schemes to apply for associate membership of the Health and Care Research Wales Faculty.

The Health and Care Research Wales Faculty was established in 2022 to provide support, guidance and training to health and social care researchers from all backgrounds and across all career stages. It aims to bring researchers together as a collaborative community to better support their research impact as well as their individual research career pathways.

Prior to the launch of associate memberships, membership of the faculty was only open to those individuals who had received a Health and Care Research Wales personal award.

Rachel McDowell is a physiotherapist based at the All-Wales Cystic Fibrosis Centre at University Hospital Llandough and an associate member of the Health and Care Research Wales Faculty. She has been awarded a Wellcome Trust PhD Fellowship through the GW4 Clinical Academic Training programme, a collaboration between Cardiff University, University of Bath, University of Bristol and University of Exeter.

Rachel said, “People with cystic fibrosis can get a build-up of mucus in their lungs which can limit their ability to exercise and therefore their day-to-day activities. However, staying active is an important part of life with cystic fibrosis as it is brilliant for opening up the airways and keeping the muscles strong, as well as the enormous benefits in terms of stress relief, social interaction and mental wellbeing.

“A new cystic fibrosis treatment called Kaftrio was introduced in 2020, which has made a huge difference to many patients’ lung function, helping them breathe more easily. My PhD will look at improving other aspects of cystic fibrosis that currently limit exercise, not just lung function, and how that could translate to patients’ overall quality of life.”

Rachel said the support network and career guidance offered by the faculty was “very inspiring”: “The GW4 programme is all about collaboration, so it’s great to have access to the faculty’s support network and training opportunities as an associate member. It also encourages researchers to be thinking about future work from an early stage, so from a career point of view it has been encouraging for me to see that there are other faculty members who have undertaken this Fellowship before and what they have gone on to do. I am also looking forward to speaking at the faculty event in September to advise other researchers who are aspiring to apply for their own personal Fellowship.”

Professor Monica Busse, Director of the Health and Care Research Wales Faculty, said: “On behalf of our Faculty I am delighted to be able to extend our Associate Membership scheme to individuals who qualify, in an effort to promote a critical mass of excellent health and social care researchers and enhance collaboration across the research community in Wales.”

To find out more about the Health and Care Research Wales Faculty, visit our website.