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@ResearchWales Health and Care Research Wales Magazine - Issue 07 - November 2019

The magazine to showcase health and social care research in Wales

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Barking up the right tree Professor Iain Whitaker, Health and Care Research Wales Specialty Lead for surgery, is working on cutting-edge research that aims to bioprint ears.

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Making a difference through research: meet our new Director

Research funding: the secret to success

Read our Q&A with Professor Kieran Walshe,

Find out what the funders are looking for

the new Director of Health and Care

and learn more about some of our successful

Research Wales.


Health and Care Research Wales Magazine - Issue 07 - November 2019


Contents 2

PAG E 1 0

Barking up the right tree

PAG E 1 4

PAGE 1 2

Research funding: the secret to success

Making a difference through research

PAG E 0 3

PAGE 0 4



Professor Kieran Walshe, Director of Health

Research news from across Wales

and Care Research Wales

PAG E 1 0

PAGE 1 2

Barking up the right tree

Making a difference through research

Read about our surgery Specialty Lead and

Find out more about the new Director of

his cutting-edge bioprinting research

Health and Care Research Wales in our Q&A

PAG E 1 4

PAGE 1 8

Research funding: the secret to success

Calendar of events

Discover some tips to help make your

Save the date: key research and development

funding application stand out


Health and Care Research Wales Magazine - Issue 07 - November 2019



elcome to Issue 7 of

what they contribute to the wider stock of

@ResearchWales. This edition

knowledge, and what they mean for policy

showcases some of the great partnerships

and practice. Researchers can’t influence

and collaborations that are making it

practice just by writing journal articles

possible to support and deliver excellent

for prestigious academic peer-reviewed

health and social care research in Wales.

journals – knowledge mobilisation is about relationships, networks and influencing skills,

The annual Health and Care Research Wales

and it is surely part of every researcher’s

conference in October gave me my first

responsibilities to get involved.

opportunity to start meeting researchers, clinicians, managers, patients and the public

Over the next few months we want to take

and others with a stake in our health and

stock of what Health and Care Research

care research. I am now starting to get out

Wales has achieved and think carefully about

and about to universities, NHS organisations,

what would help us to make more progress

and other groups across Wales. This is about

towards a health and care system that is

more than meeting people, though that is

really evidence-based. All ideas welcome!

important. It is about understanding what works really well already, and where we

I hope you enjoy reading this edition of

could make improvements in our future

@ResearchWales and I look forward to

strategy and plan.

working with you all to make a difference to the health and wellbeing of the people in

Our shared aim should be a knowledge-


based health and care service in Wales, where we are really good at finding or producing the evidence from research to inform decision-makers about the design and delivery of care to people. I make no apology for this being a pretty applied, needs-led view of research. While discovery science matters hugely, most of what we do in Health and Care Research Wales is more to do with the translation of ideas into innovations, which can then be evaluated and then, when their value has been demonstrated, scaled and spread across the NHS and the social care system. As a researcher, of course I am intensely curious about what we will find when I lead a study. But I need to be equally interested

Professor Kieran Walshe

in how those findings are going to be used,

Director, Health and Care Research Wales

Health and Care Research Wales Magazine - Issue 07 - November 2019


News Research news from across Wales


Specialty Lead and team achieve breakthrough in breast cancer care Internationally acclaimed research, led by

patients with a very common form of breast

Health and Care Research Wales Specialty

cancer. In the UK for example 55,000 new

Lead Dr Rob Jones, has found that incurable

cases of breast cancer occur each year and

breast cancer can be better controlled by

about three quarters are oestrogen receptive

combining investigational therapy with

positive breast cancers. That equates to

standard treatment, which could benefit

millions of patients around the world that

millions of people.

potentially are going to get benefits from this breakthrough,” Dr Jones commented.

A breast cancer diagnosis can be devastating, and one in seven women will be diagnosed

For this life-changing research the FAKTION

with the disease in their lifetime. This

study team, which included a Health and

diagnosis is even more painful if you’re

Care Research Wales funded research nurse

told your cancer is incurable. The FAKTION

and research fellow, were nominated by Astra

study could give these patients the hope of

Zeneca for the National Cancer Research

controlling their cancer for twice as long.

Institute (NCRI) award for highest impact factor research to have been delivered in the

FAKTION, which was supported by Velindre

UK over the last five years.

University NHS Trust, the Centre for Trials Research and the Wales Cancer Research

The research has progressed to a phase three

Centre, investigated whether researchers

trial, where the investigational combination

could reverse or delay resistance to hormone

will be tested in a larger number of patients,

therapy in post-menopausal women whose

before any recommendations can be made

cancer had spread, by adding a targeted

to take it up as a new standard of treatment

therapy called Capivasertib to existing

on the NHS.

therapy. “The incremental benefit from Capivasertib is highly significant and the trial involves


Health and Care Research Wales Magazine - Issue 07 - November 2019


Welsh health boards take part in international study Cwm Taf Morgannwg and Aneurin Bevan University Health Boards are working in partnership with 60 other sites on an international study looking to reduce the risk of breathing complications following major abdominal surgery. This type of surgery can have a huge impact on the respiratory tract, and every year between one and

Dr Tamas Szakmany, Health and Care

participate in the study and is currently the

four percent of the two million surgical

Research Wales Specialty Lead and one of

third highest recruiting site in the UK with

procedures carried out in the UK result in

the principal investigators for the PRISM

181 participants recruited since 2016.


study, said, “The PRISM trial will answer important questions on how to best treat

“I was able to recommend Cwm Taf

Several small studies have suggested that a

patients after routine major abdominal

Morgannwg University Health Board as a site

form of treatment called continuous positive


when the PRISM investigators were looking for help to kick start the recruitment. The

airway pressure (CPAP), where extra oxygen is given through a slightly tighter mask than

“We know that respiratory problems occur

team at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital have

normal or a clear hood, received after surgery

frequently in these patients and it is unclear

just recruited their 65th patient which is

can reduce the likelihood of complications.

whether applying a small amount of positive

double their initial recruitment target, a huge

This has yet to become routine practice as

pressure (CPAP) straight after waking up

achievement – congratulations to the team,”

more research needs to be done.

from an anaesthetic could help in preventing

Dr Szakmany continued.

these complications. This large, multiThe Prevention of Respiratory Insufficiency

national, pragmatic randomised controlled

The study is on track to finish at the end of

after Surgical Management (PRISM) study

trial could lead to significant changes in

the year. If the team find CPAP is a successful

team aims to fill the gap in research by

patient management.”

treatment option this could mean reduced risks associated with abdominal surgery,

recruiting 4,800 patients over the age of 50 who will receive either CPAP for four hours

PRISM has currently recruited 4,600 patients

leading to patients recovering more quickly

after their surgery or the current routine

across the globe. Aneurin Bevan University

and returning home sooner and in better


Health Board was the first site in Wales to



Shaping future research for public health in children Future research for children’s public health

Working across organisational boundaries,

Michael Seaborne, Knowledge Exchange

and identifying common areas of interest

Officer at Public Health Wales, said: “There

can prevent duplication, and ensure a more

has been a positive response to involvement

efficient, agreed research agenda that

from all areas of practice within the Welsh

improves outcomes for the whole population.

Government, children’s charities, academic and internal researchers.

is being shaped by a collaborative project between Public Health Wales and the

The project interviewed key stakeholders

National Centre for Population Health and

for their opinions on the gaps in research

“Suggestions have been given by the

Wellbeing Research.

knowledge, and also surveyed the public,

Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Wales,

policy makers, and academic researchers to

Deputy Director of Housing Policy, Detective

produce a summary report.

Inspector Lead for Protecting Vulnerable

Funded by Health and Care Research Wales,

People as well as leaders in midwifery,

the Knowledge Exchange workstream helps to ensure research activities are addressing

The final report is set to have a large impact

the most important questions to improve

on the population health and wellbeing of

early years health, by better understanding

Wales, by informing research areas for which

“All are eager to work together and form

the gaps in evidence-based policy and

there is a lack of evidence and helping to

working relationships which complement

practice and developing more collaborative

produce a more efficient evidence base of

each other.”

research programmes.

public health interventions.

health visiting, education and social care.

Health and Care Research Wales Magazine - Issue 07 - November 2019



Attack of the T cells New research from Cardiff University has discovered that a patient’s chances of fighting cancer are greatly improved when the anti-cancer T cells already in their body are given a boost from a molecule called L-selectin. So far, treatment that harnesses the power of a patient’s T cells, the cells that attack viruses and cancers, has only been successful when fighting certain types of Leukaemia. This is because cancerous cells circulating in the blood are easier for T cells to find and attack, whereas treating solid cancers is much harder.


Part-funded by the Wales Cancer Research Centre through Health and Care Research Wales, the study team is using the knowledge that L-selectin helps T cells move from the bloodstream into inflamed tissue to help fight infection, to find out if increasing the amount of the molecule will replicate this effect for T cells when attacking solid cancers. Professor Ann Ager, from Cardiff University’s Systems Immunity Research Institute, said: “Our results were surprising. While increased L-selectin did improve the ability of T cells to fight solid cancers it wasn’t because of

‘Seal or Varnish?’ dental study receives prestigious award Professor Ivor Chestnutt, Health and Care Research Wales Specialty Lead for oral and dental health, has won the 2019 International Association of Dental Research (IADR) award for best paper published in the Journal of Dental Research. Professor Chestnutt received the prestigious William J. Gies Award for the ‘Seal or Varnish?’ study, run through the Health and Care Research Wales funded Centre for Trials Research at Cardiff University.

better homing [the T cells ability to find inflamed tissue]. “The modified T cells entered solid cancers within the first hour and kept accumulating inside the solid cancers over more than a week, suggesting that L-selectin also plays a role in activation and retention of anticancer T cells inside cancers.”

The ‘Seal or Varnish?’ study, in collaboration with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board Community Dental Service, treated just over 800 children with either fissure sealants or fluoride varnish to discover which treatment is most effective and offers the best value for money for children aged 6-7 years. The team found that applying fluoride varnish to children’s teeth is just as effective

at preventing tooth decay as the alternative method of sealing teeth and could save the NHS money. Professor Chestnutt, who led the study, commented: “This award demonstrates that we have the capacity in Wales to conduct impactful research that has implications for dental prevention, not only locally, but across the world. “This work was facilitated by close collaboration between the NHS and Cardiff University and is just recognition of the tremendous efforts of a large team of clinical and research staff, in seeing the work to completion. “Assistance from Health and Care Research Wales in relation to funding and governance aspects of the work was also key to successful delivery.”

This could mean that this type of therapy, called immunotherapy, can be used to treat more types of cancer. “This is great news as this type of treatment is more targeted and doesn’t damage healthy cells,” Professor Ager commented. This research has therefore revealed a new role for L-selectin in cancer therapy, one that could provide immunotherapy for solid cancers that currently can’t be treated with T cell-based therapies.


Health and Care Research Wales Magazine - Issue 07 - November 2019

Read more about the study in @ResearchWales Issue 2.


Welsh GP surgeries take part in national study A total of 328 patients from 33 Welsh GP surgeries have taken part in a recent study that found a simple finger-prick blood test could prevent unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics to people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Over one million people in the UK have COPD, a condition that affects the lungs and causes difficulties breathing, and over 80 percent of these patients are prescribed antibiotics when they have exacerbation of their symptoms. However, in two thirds of cases antibiotics have no effect on their condition. The ‘Point of care testing to target antibiotics for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations’ (PACE) study, involving researchers from the Centre for Trials Research and the Wales Centre for Primary and Emergency Care Research (PRIME Centre Wales), aimed to reduce antibiotic consumption without negatively impacting on COPD patients’ condition. Working with GP surgeries across England and Wales, PACE found that by giving a finger-prick test that measures the amount of C-reactive protein (CRP) – a marker of inflammation that rises rapidly in the blood in response to serious infections –

researchers could reduce the number of antibiotics prescribed by 20 percent, without there being any negative effects for patients. Michelle Morgan, Research Assistant at Llan Healthcare, one of the practices that took part in the study, said: “Being new to research, this was the very first study that I had worked on. Knowing that COPD was on the rise, that antibiotics were being so over prescribed, and that we may one day all develop antibiotic resistance, it was great to be part of a study to see whether a simple blood test would help clinicians in the future decide whether or not to prescribe antibiotics. “Within our practice we found patients were very willing to participate in the PACE study, as they felt confident that they were getting

a test done, which actually gave them the result there and then.” Safely reducing the use of antibiotics in this way may help in the battle against antibiotic resistance. Health and Care Research Wales funded research nurses were also involved in patient recruitment and data collection for the PACE study, which has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The publication has prompted a review of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines, and the study team aims to inform new Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease guidelines for the management of COPD.


New Specialty Leads appointed David Hill, Angharad Davies, Aled Jones and Francis Sansbury have been appointed as Health and Care Research Wales Specialty Leads. They join the 2019 group of researchers announced in June and will represent the following areas: • • • •

Ear, nose and throat (ENT) – David Hill Infection – Angharad Davies Health services research – Aled Jones Genomics and rare diseases – Francis Sansbury

“Mainly I will be seeking to find ENT consultants and registrars who wish to adopt established studies already running in other parts of the UK, and act as a facilitator, for their adoption by colleagues in Wales,” said

David Hill, a Consultant ENT Surgeon at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board. “I plan to develop the Health and Care Research Wales portfolio for ENT by matching new and ongoing studies in the UK to colleagues in Wales who share that interest.” Angharad Davies, who is a Clinical Associate Professor and Honorary Consultant Microbiologist at Swansea University Medical School, is “delighted” with her appointment. “Increasing rates of antimicrobial resistance, emerging infections and increasing numbers of vulnerable patients mean that infection research is needed more urgently than ever,” she said. “For example we need new rapid diagnostics to support improved antimicrobial stewardship, and we need to strengthen the evidence base for best management of infections, and infection prevention. This

requires a coordinated approach between microbiologists in academia and health professionals. My aim is to enhance the potential for infection research in Wales by involving and linking these various groups.” Aled Jones, a Professor of Patient Safety and Healthcare Quality at Cardiff University, said: “Welsh universities and NHS partners are internationally renowned for having excellent researchers. However, there are few opportunities available for health services researchers within Wales to network and share successes and challenges of undertaking projects, capturing meaningful research impact and generating research income. “Similarly, improving opportunities for health services researchers to inform and guide policy makers and decision makers in Wales and elsewhere in the UK are things I want to review.”

Health and Care Research Wales Magazine - Issue 07 - November 2019



Setting the standard for public involvement The final UK Standards for Public Involvement, which aim to improve the quality and consistency of public involvement in research, were released on 18 November. Health and Care Research Wales formed a key part of a UK-wide partnership to develop the Standards, which were piloted in ten sites across the UK including the Wales School for Social Care Research and the Centre for Ageing and Dementia Research. The Standards set out six areas for

of public involvement activity that are

research community and the public to shape

developing good quality public involvement.

happening in Wales and work together as

future plans around public involvement and

These guidelines can be used by members of

a community to embed public involvement


the public, groups, researchers and research

as standard practice everywhere it is

organisations as well as public involvement

appropriate to happen.”

facilitators. They include:

“The current work around our public involvement and engagement ambitions in

Health and Care Research Wales set out

the ‘Discover your role’ document provides

Inclusive opportunities

ambitions for public involvement and

a way for colleagues to engage with the

Working together

engagement in health and social care

actions and activities that will form our

Support and learning

research earlier this year in the document,

future plans, and the UK Standards for


‘Discover your role in health and social care

Public Involvement in health and social



care research offers a fantastic framework


to support people to undertake meaningful A consultation on this document, including

public involvement,” Alex continued.

Alex Newberry, policy lead for public

an online survey and three community of

involvement at Welsh Government’s

practice workshops, has been held over the

The information gathered from the

Health and Social Services Research and

last month. These events were the main

workshops and survey will inform the

Development Division, said, “Looking ahead,

mechanism for Health and Care Research

development of Health and Care Research

we want to build on the great examples

Wales to engage coproductively with the

Wales’ strategic plans for 2020 onwards.


New communications, engagement and involvement lead Health and Care Research Wales is delighted

“It’s an exciting time as we see the launch

to welcome Felicity Waters as its new

of the UK Standards for Public Involvement

Head of Communications, Engagement and

and build on the success of our ‘Let’s talk


research’ public engagement events. I’m really looking forward to working on some

Felicity joined the organisation on 7 October

key communications projects with the team

from Cwm Taf Morgannwg University

as well to further showcase the excellent

Health Board, where she was Head of

research taking place in Wales.”

Communications for five years. Felicity is also Vice Chair of the NHS Wales “I’m thrilled to be leading the

Heads of Communications group and she

communications, engagement and

has extensive public relations and media

involvement team at Health and Care


Research Wales,” said Felicity.


Health and Care Research Wales Magazine - Issue 07 - November 2019


Let’s talk... success

At Storiel, Bangor and the National Museum

get involved” and “we have medicine today

Cardiff organisations from across the Health

because of research.”

and Care Research Wales infrastructure and the third sector developed engaging,

Barbara Moore, Senior Public Involvement

interactive stands that brought research

and Engagement Manager at Health and

In July, Health and Care Research Wales

to life. Short 10-minute talks were also

Care Research Wales, commented: “The

worked in partnership with health and social

delivered by guest speakers through

days were joyful with an air of excitement.

care researchers, third sector organisations

passionate and often personal stories, which

We facilitated a wide range of people of all

and the public to host two fun, interactive

showed the benefits and differences that

ages discovering examples of how research

and free festivals of research across Wales.

research makes.

shapes and improves lives and realising that

Without the public, life changing health

Over 1,000 people attended ‘Let’s talk

and social care research couldn’t happen,

research’ across both dates. “Research is for

The feedback gathered from the ‘Let’s talk

but general awareness, understanding and

everyone, it’s the only way to make things

research’ events will inform the Health and

engagement with research is low. ‘Let’s

better,” a member of the public commented

Care Research Wales engagement strategy,

talk research’ aimed to help change this,

after attending the event. 200 people said

making sure that the public are central to all

by engaging the people of Wales with the

they learnt something new at ‘Let’s talk

that we do.

research that is happening on their doorstep.

research’ with attendees noting “anyone can

we all have a part to play.”

Health and Care Research Wales Magazine - Issue 07 - November 2019



Barking up the right tree Eight year old Radiyah desperately wants to have her ears pierced, just like many girls her age. For Radiyah though it’s a bit more of a challenge – when she was born, her left ear hadn’t grown fully.


“The major barrier to plastic surgery is

In Professor Whitaker’s lab in Swansea

improving form and function but we need to

University, there are floor to ceiling

take tissue from elsewhere in the body,” said

incubators and a couple of 3D bioprinting

Professor Whitaker.


“We’re doing nice surgery, taking bits out,

Zita Jessop and Tom Jovic are academic

taking cancers out, making things look nicer

plastic surgery registrars working in Professor

but there’s a pay-off taking things from

Whitaker’s team.

elsewhere, such as pain and scarring, so it’s always been my passion to try and get

Essentially, they’re making an ‘ink’ to print

around that clinical conundrum.”

the different shaped elements which make

adiyah is now facing a series of operations so surgeons can construct a

new ear that looks the same as her right one.

Click on the button to watch the animation

One of the operations involves removing part of Radiyah’s ribcage to use as tissue (cartilage). This is a potentially painful procedure and it’s also likely to leave a scar. But there could be another way. Professor Iain Whitaker, Health and Care Research Wales Specialty Lead for surgery, is working on a novel approach that might help Radiyah in the future. He’s aiming to bioprint ears by creating cartilage from a natural biomaterial found in tree bark. Animation by Steve Atherton, Medical Illustrator, Swansea Bay University Health Board


Health and Care Research Wales Magazine - Issue 07 - November 2019

up an ear. To do this they’re mixing patients’

“We’ve been going back and forth to hospital

nasal cells with the tree bark material.

and they’ve been showing us patients who have had the operation where the rib is

“A lot of groups throughout the world are

removed to form an ear,” said Radiyah’s

using plastic materials for their bioprinting

dad Rana.

because it’s a lot easier to print,” said Tom. They’re deciding whether to go ahead with “However, it’s been shown that when plastic

the traditional procedure or to hold out

materials are put into humans they often

for Professor Whitaker’s research to be

invoke an immune reaction because it’s a


foreign material.” “We are willing to wait to see if this new The ‘ink’ has to be the right consistency to be

technology becomes available,” said Rana.

pushed through a printer nozzle but it also

“We would like Radiyah to have an operation

has to be strong enough to set as a solid and

before secondary school so she doesn’t miss

maintain its shape. That’s where the tree bark

classes but if it’s not available then we would

material comes in.

need to wait a bit longer.”

“It’s a cellulose material so it’s very

Professor Whitaker’s research has the

printable,” explained Zita. “It’s got the right

backing of two of the world’s leading plastic

mechanical properties so when you squeeze

surgery bodies - the American Association

“I hope it will give patients a new treatment option, which means they don’t have to have bits taken from elsewhere in the body with the obvious scarring, pain and length of time in hospital.” Professor Iain Whitaker

it out it flows very well, which means that the

of Plastic Surgeons (AAPS) and the European

obvious scarring, pain and length of time in

cells don’t get put under undue pressure.

Association of Plastic Surgeons (EURAPS).

hospital,” said Professor Whitaker.

Earlier this year, he was awarded an AAPS/ “Then once it’s printed we spray a material

EURAPS academic scholarship to form a

“We’re starting with cartilage and facial

on to make it hardened, we call it cross-

research collaboration with Massachusetts

reconstruction but it’s my hope that we’ll

linking. And what we’ve shown is that the

General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

move on to different tissue types and different body areas, which could lead to new

tree bark material has the fibres within it that mimic the natural collagen fibres of tissue,

As part of the collaboration, this cutting-edge

reconstructive options for patients with birth

specifically cartilage.”

research will travel from Swansea to the States

defects or illness or disease, such as cancer.”

so it can be tested in animal models. It’s hoped “The bonus of using a natural material like

the results will be published next year.

As for Radiyah, she’s a bit nervous about having an operation, whenever that might be,

the one we’re using is it’s known to have a

but she’s mainly looking forward to it.

low immunogenic profile,” added Tom, “so

Although the aim is to bioprint ears, the full

it’s generally perceived to be safe and well

impact of this research could be much wider

tolerated by the immune system.”


Radiyah is one of Professor Whitaker’s

“I hope it will give patients a new treatment

patients and she’s been attending regular

option, which means they don’t have to have

Radiyah’s even picked out the type of

clinic appointments for the last five years.

bits taken from elsewhere in the body with the

earrings she wants to wear: “Diamond ones!”

“I really want to get my ears pierced and tie my hair back,” said Radiyah.

Health and Care Research Wales Magazine - Issue 07 - November 2019



Making a difference through research: meet our new Director Professor Kieran Walshe had only been in the job a few days when he stepped onto the stage to host our 2019 Health and Care Research Wales conference.


the National Institute for Health Research

If I had to describe myself I would say I’m

– and this is a great opportunity to work at

essentially a social scientist and a health

a government level but in a system where

services researcher. That’s really what I do.

you can really see the line of sight from government to health boards and health

@ResearchWales: What experience do you

services on the frontline.

think will help you most in this role?

I think what all of us working in research

Professor Walshe: I bring a good mix of

want to do is to see the research we do make

experience from both research and working

e told an eager audience of more than

a difference to health services and to people

in government. I think this is a role where if

300 researchers, and support and

and populations, and that to me is an area

you can combine those two things, you can

where Wales is really well placed.

get a lot done.

@ResearchWales: Tell us a little bit about

I’ve not worked in Wales before so I’ve got

yourself and your background…

a great deal to learn about Welsh context,

delivery staff, how working together was key to achieving great things. We caught up with the new Director away

about Welsh health policy, about the

from the bright lights and the microphone to find out more about him, his hopes for the

Professor Walshe: So, as I say, I’m an

landscape if you like – and by that I mean the

role and why he’s a fan of the Welsh hills.

academic, I’m a professor of health

organisational landscape – the geography,

management and policy at Manchester

the way services are organised.

@ResearchWales: First of all – welcome

University. I’ve been there quite a long time.

to Health and Care Research Wales! How

Before that I worked at the University of

@ResearchWales: You mentioned in the

excited are you to be here?

Birmingham, I spent some time in the US,

Annual Report that you want to meet as

at the University of California, Berkeley,

many people across the infrastructure as

Professor Walshe: Really excited. This is a

and worked at The King’s Fund in London.

possible to find out their views. Are you

great opportunity. I’m an academic who has

My background before that was as an NHS

going on tour?!

worked in, and with, government before and



Health and Care Research Wales Magazine - Issue 07 - November 2019

do research, how hard it is to get grants, to

“I think what all of us working in research want to do is to see the research we do make

appoint research staff, to give them a proper opportunity to have a career rather than just being on lots of fixed term contracts, to get through all the processes of research and to do so properly, to write for publication and get the journal papers that your universities

a difference to health

want, and also to engage and have impact.

services and to people

So it’s probably quite a good discipline

and populations, and

to carry on being an active researcher

that to me is an area

and I tend to think, in universities, the

where Wales is really well placed.”

most successful leaders are the ones who continue to really care deeply about what made them come into a university, be that teaching or research or a combination of the two, and to still be engaged in that and

the next year, three years and five years, in enough detail for us to be able to be pretty clear about what we’re trying to do, and that will come from talking to people. @ResearchWales: Partnership and collaboration is a key theme for us and we heard lots of examples at our conference. What do you think can be achieved through working together and across different sectors? Professor Walshe: It’s being able to get stuff done, really. One of the challenges is making Professor Walshe: [laughs] that’s a grand

it easy for people to be collaborative and to

term for it! At the moment, I’m lining up ways

work in partnership with others, rather than it

to meet people who I think have a really

being difficult to do.

important stake – so people in the public community, in the research community, in

The metrics we use to measure performance

the policy community and in the practice and

often encourage people to work in their own

NHS and social care community, and that’s an

particular little groove rather than trying

awful lot of people.

to work with other people. So it’s trying to make it easier for people to work together

I want to do this in an effective way, not

and actually help people to see that working

spending all my time simply travelling

collaboratively – not just lots of warm and

around by train, and I want to do it with

fuzzy language – but actually collaborating

a purpose as well. So it’s not just about

practically on projects and activities delivers

meeting people and saying hello but


trying to use that as an opportunity to ask people questions about how they see the

@ResearchWales: This is a part-time role,

development of Health and Care Research

four days a week, which allows you time to

Wales, what they see as the strengths,

carry on doing research. How important is

what they see as the opportunities for

that to you?

improvement, how they think it might Professor Walshe: It’s kind of who I am. I


probably recognise it’s a bit of a comfort It’s then about trying to bring those ideas

blanket as a researcher to think ‘well, I do

together. I’m not a fan of plans and strategies

want to carry on doing research’, but it’s

that are massively long documents but I

also I think a useful discipline. When you’re

do think we need to articulate a plan for

a researcher you know how difficult it is to

not to spend their whole life at strategic meetings in the Vice Chancellor’s office. @ResearchWales: As you say, research is who you are but when you’re not researching where might we find you – what are your interests? Professor Walshe: Probably my biggest interest is running. I mostly do trail and ultramarathon running so you’ll find me out somewhere in the hills. There are lots of opportunities for that in Wales! Probably the longest run I’ve done is the Spine Race, which is the length of the Pennine Way. So that was 268 miles but I also do shorter races – I do Park Run every Saturday. @ResearchWales: Well, we’re tired just thinking about that! Before we let you go, what else do we need to know about you? Professor Walshe: I’m very approachable and I’m really happy for people to get in touch, and when I’m out and about I’m really interested in hearing about what people are doing. Actually, the exciting bit about it is the research. I had some great discussions at conference with people about pieces of research they’re involved in and there’s nothing more exciting than a really good piece of research – a really great idea that’s been turned into a great research project, which produces something that can make a real difference.

Health and Care Research Wales Magazine - Issue 07 - November 2019



Research funding: the secret to success Find out what the funders are looking for and learn more about some of our current grant holders

Applying for research funding is a competitive process so it’s essential to give your bid the best possible chance of success. But where do you start?


n 2018-19, Health and Care Research Wales awarded 17 grants, worth a

combined total of more than £3 million. Marc Boggett, Senior Grants Team Manager, shares his advice on how to submit a great application plus he takes us behind the scenes of the grants process where some key changes are taking place.

provide significant funding and is a very

the very beginning of the development

prestigious award.

of the research question right through to dissemination.

Getting your application right “We always say you need to thoroughly read the guidance. It’s always worth getting advice from researchers we already fund – what did they find to be successful in their application, what feedback did they have?

“And finally, look at any previous feedback you or colleagues have had on applications and take that into account, because we always try to provide constructive feedback.

Improving the process

(Read more about some of our current grant holders on pages 15 and 16).

“We’ve been reviewing all the grant schemes over the summer with the Wessex Institute,

“There is value in getting the input of the

who administer the online application

wider Health and Care Research Wales

system, peer review process and manage

infrastructure too. If you’ve got anything

panels on our behalf for some of our larger

that involves a trial or large research


numbers then you should get the local trials unit involved, or other aspects of the

“Previously we had a one stage application

infrastructure that we fund. For example if

process for all our schemes but now there

there is a health economics aspect to your

are two stages for the Research Funding

“Every autumn we open competitive, peer

proposals, the Welsh Health Economics

Schemes and RfPPB.

reviewed funding calls for a range of grant

Support Service is an obvious port of call.

What we offer

“We felt we could do with refreshing some

schemes including Fellowships, Research for Patient and Public Benefit (RfPPB), and

“Our current schemes no longer have

of the eligibility criteria and priority areas, as

Health or Social Care Research Grants.

themed calls. Instead we encourage

well as making it easier to apply in the first

applications to focus on priority areas, so


“We also run the annual NHS Research Time

when you apply at the first stage make

Awards (formerly known as Clinical Research

sure you have read and explicitly reference

“The first stage is a summary application,

Time Awards) and Health PhD Studentships

‘A Healthier Wales’ and make it clear how

where the applicant must make a case for

too, which we launch every other year during

your research is relevant to a particular

prioritisation. So hopefully that might be

January. We usually get about 40 or 50

policy area or priority area of the Welsh

better for applicants who previously had to

applications to this.

Government as well. That will aid you in

send a full application, which could be, say,

getting through the initial prioritisation

100 pages, and then it gets knocked out at


the first stage.

of UK-level schemes run by the National

“Another key thing is public and patient

“We’re also particularly keen to increase

Institute for Health Research (NIHR),

involvement in research. We expect that

capacity and capability in social care

including a fellowship scheme which can

projects have public involvement from

research. Historically social care research

“We also provide funding to enable researchers in Wales to apply to a range

continues on page 17


Health and Care Research Wales Magazine - Issue 07 - November 2019

Julie Latchem-Hastings

Andrew Kemp

Institution: Centre for Trials Research, Cardiff University

Institution: Swansea Bay University Health Board

Award: Social Care Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award: Research for Patient and Public Benefit (RfPPB)

Research title: Feeding, Eating and Drinking in Neurological

Research title: Group-based positive psychotherapy for

Care: Sharing Practice to Transform Care (FEAST)

people living with Acquired Brain Injury: A feasibility study

Background: I am a neurological physiotherapist by

Background: I am a psychological scientist with research

background. My research, both past and present, focuses

interests that span cognitive and affective neuroscience

on the care and rehabilitation of people with neurological

through to epidemiology, bridging the gap between

conditions, and the wellbeing of those who care for them.

biological mechanism and public health. Before arriving in

I have conducted a range of studies in the area of severe

Wales in 2016, I was living and working in Sao Paulo, Brazil,

brain injury, focusing particularly on the care of those

on the largest study of the health and wellbeing of the

in long-term care facilities, family and allied health care

Brazilian population.

professional experiences.

I have been working with Zoe Fisher, Consultant Clinical

What does this award/grant allow you to do? Almost 23,000

Psychologist and Deputy Head of Department for

people reside in care homes in Wales, about double the

Community Brain Injury Rehabilitation, for more than

number of NHS beds. Many have complex care needs due

three years, developing an innovative and evidence-

to neurological conditions. People in care homes consider

based theoretical framework of wellbeing that has led to

mealtimes as central to the quality of their experience but

new interventions for managing chronic conditions, and

repeatedly report dissatisfaction. My research aims to:

is guiding significant service redesign in the healthcare

identify the learning needs of all those who prepare food


and those who feed or support people with neurological

What does this award/grant allow you to do? The main goal

conditions to eat in long term care settings; understand

of our funded project is to determine the feasibility of a

the facilitators and barriers to creating positive mealtime

new and innovative positive psychotherapy intervention

experiences; and foster positive change through co-

that we have developed for people living with acquired

designing learning tools and establishing supportive

brain injury. Traditionally, neurorehabilitation has focused


on reducing impairment following brain injury. Our

What impact are you hoping to achieve with your research?

approach is to deliver traditional neurorehabilitation

The study findings will be used to: guide the development

in combination with interventions that promote factors

of educational materials for catering and care staff to

critical for the experience of wellbeing.

improve assisted feeding skills and understanding about

What impact are you hoping to achieve with your research?

the needs and preferences of people with neurological

We hope that our research will:

conditions; act to connect care providers across Wales and

1) enable people living with acquired brain injury to

encourage them to share ideas for improving standards

rebuild meaningful and purposeful lives;

at mealtimes through the establishment of All-Wales

2) create stronger networks with community providers and

Catering in Social Care Network; and bring together people

third sector organisations on which long term wellbeing

with neurological conditions, their families, expert clinical

and resilience can be promoted in the community;

and care staff to develop new neurological care food and

3) lay a foundation for a more effective and sustainable

feeding recommendations to set a benchmark for high-

model of healthcare for people living with chronic

quality care in this area.


Health and Care Research Wales Magazine - Issue 07 - November 2019


Adam Mackridge

Heather Strange Institution: Cardiff University

Institution: Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board

Award: Research Funding Scheme: Health Grant

Award: Clinical Research Time Award (CRTA)

Research title: NIPT (Non-Invasive prenatal testing) WALES:

Research title: Pharmacy in primary care and the community

Understanding and Improving the New Landscape of


Prenatal Screening

Background: Early in my career, I undertook a PhD at Aston

Background: I am a researcher at Cardiff University’s Centre

University, through which I explored the issue of waste

for Trials Research (CTR); I work as part of a small qualitative

medicines in primary care. Following this, I moved into a

team that provides sociological and methodological

full time academic role in Liverpool John Moores University,

expertise to CTR studies and trials. I originally trained in

began building a research network and undertook small scale

medical, social and political philosophy, and after spending

projects, building to moderate sized projects by the time I

some time working within a research centre dedicated

left to join Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board. Over my

to examining the ethical and social aspects of genomic

career, I have undertaken a number of research projects around

technologies, I completed my PhD at Cardiff University’s

various aspects of health research and have published around

School of Social Sciences; an empirical study of the

25 peer reviewed papers arising from this.

emergence and translation of non-invasive prenatal testing

What does this award/grant allow you to do? The CRTA grant

(NIPT) within the UK. My main areas of interest are medical

allows me protected time away from my normal duties to

sociology, the sociology of reproduction, bio/medical

devote to planning and undertaking research, as well as

ethics, the social and cultural impact of genetic/genomic

building my research network. In addition, the grant provides

technologies, science and technology in healthcare and

funding for training, which is helping me to further develop

implementation/improvement science.

my knowledge and skills around research methods, building

What does this award/grant allow you to do? This grant

on my existing experience and adding to my expertise. The

will allow us to work closely with both the healthcare

relationship with my mentor has enabled me to connect with

professionals who discuss and deliver NIPT (midwives,

other researchers in North Wales, as well as contribute to

fetal medicine consultants, genetic counsellors), and the

supporting others in my team to engage with research and

patients who use or are offered this new test, to build a rich

evidence-based practice.

understanding of what current practice looks like, and what

What impact are you hoping to achieve with your research?

matters most to them. We will build on this knowledge

Through undertaking the activities set out in my work plan I

together, in order to generate consensus on key issues and

hope to develop myself as a researcher, broadening my skills

concerns, to coproduce guidance for the provision of NIPT

and experience, as well as supporting wider engagement

in Wales, and develop a prototype tool designed to enable

around research through my colleagues and wider professional

best practice.

network. The work itself is intended to help build an evidence

What impact are you hoping to achieve with your research?

base for the transformational change that is taking place

We hope to facilitate a shared understanding of what

around pharmacy in primary care and the community, which

matters most to both the healthcare professionals involved

will help to inform future investment and service design. The

in the delivery of NIPT, and the women who use or who are

award will give me the time to ensure that the projects needed

offered the test; and help enable best clinical practice in

to build this evidence base are well planned and I am able to

order that the needs of key stakeholders may be fulfilled.

devote the necessary time to gain funding for robust projects. See the full list of 2018-19 grant holders in our Annual Report


Health and Care Research Wales Magazine - Issue 07 - November 2019

“The research funding world is quite competitive. There are lots of great researchers and potential research projects but there’s obviously only so much we can fund...”

continued from page 14 is less developed capacity-wise compared

sent out to peer reviewers across the UK.

researchers, or who are lead investigators,

to health research. So with the social care

As I mentioned, we work closely with the

but also projects that have great value to

grants, we’ve loosened the eligibility criteria.

Wessex Institute to deliver some of our grant

members of the public and patients, and to

schemes. They have a massive database and

policy and practice as well.

“Previously we said that you could only

substantial experience of obtaining peer

apply if you had a PhD but no more than 60

reviews. That’s something that previously

“So it’s trying to balance that – not only

months (5 years) of post-doctoral research

has been very difficult for us to do because

increasing capacity and capability in

experience, whereas now we’ve removed

you have to contact many academics across

Wales but also making sure the research

this ‘early stage career researcher’ limitation.

the UK in a range of subject areas to review

being delivered is scientifically robust

So you might be a much more experienced

applications and provide scientific comments

and methodologically sound, and reflects

post-doctoral applicant or a well-established

for the applicants to consider. So, the Wessex

important priorities for people in Wales.

independent researcher and you can still

Institute manage that process and they send

apply, whereas before there was a cut-off

the peer reviews to us and we then manage

“The research funding world is quite

point. Hopefully this means more social care

the scientific boards. It’s like a handover at

competitive. There are lots of great

researchers will apply this time.

that point.

researchers and potential research projects

Behind the scenes

“The scientific boards will look at the peer

fund, so I would encourage any researchers

review scores and comments. The board

who were not successful in one call to not be

members are usually senior academics

too disheartened and to take the feedback

along with public members who will then

on board.”

but there’s obviously only so much we can

“There are various stages to the application process. We’ve mentioned the prioritisation stage, which we’ve tweaked slightly for some of our schemes, and there’ll be a much wider pool of officials, practitioners in NHS Wales or local authorities, social care, and public members, which is important as well, who will individually review applications. They’ll score the applications according to how important they think the research question is to patients, public and the NHS in Wales.

undertake a final assessment. They’ll make recommendations to Health and Care Research Wales, along with points of feedback or any changes that are needed for the successful ones. “We write to the applicants once everything’s signed off and we provide applicants with feedback. Then we produce grant offer letters for the successful applicants and we manage those researchers and their projects as well.

“After that, a prioritisation oversight committee will see all the scores and they’ll rank the applications according to policy

Next time it could be you

importance. They’ll invite those who’ve got through that first triage to submit a full stage

“Our aim is not to catch people out with

two application, which includes things like

applications, it’s to support capacity building

methodology and costs.

by developing talented individuals as well as projects and their teams. So we have

Marc Boggett

“At the next stage it’s the science that’s

high-quality schemes and fund high-

Senior Grants Team Manager

reviewed and those applications will be

quality individuals who can become lead

Health and Care Research Wales Magazine - Issue 07 - November 2019


Calendar To find out more about any of these events, visit the Health and Care Research Wales events calendar or training calendar. 18

MediWales Innovation Awards 2019

UK HealthTech Conference 2019

4 December 2019 National Museum Cardiff

4 December 2019 Park Plaza, Cardiff

Over 300 VIPs and guests come together

UK HealthTech brings together key speakers

for this gala evening to celebrate the

to discuss the major strategic issues and

achievements of the NHS, life science and

policy developments facing the life science

health technology communities.

and health technology sector.

4th International Conference on Administrative Data Research

Cardiff Research Education Forum 2019

9-11 December 2019 Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff

18 December 2019 Clinical Research Facility Seminar Room, University Hospital of Wales

Administrative Data Research Conference

This is a drop in session where research

2019 is particularly relevant to anyone

training information and resources will be

involved in administrative data research,


from the social science community, or both.

JBI-Accredited Systematic Review Training Programme

Valid informed consent in research

13-17 January 2020 University of Nottingham

4 February 2020 ILS 1, Swansea University

This five day course offers an in-depth and comprehensive understanding of the principles and processes of undertaking systematic reviews to inform healthcare policy and practice.

This half day course is aimed at research staff working in NHS research and social care settings who are involved in the recruitment of people to research studies.

Health and Care Research Wales Magazine - Issue 07 - November 2019

Welsh NHS Confederation Annual Conference

Communication skills in research 1 – creating and maintaining effective working relationships

Managing essential documents in research

5 February 2020 Cardiff City Hall

21 February 2020 Carlton Court, St Asaph

26 February 2020 Health and Care Research Wales Support & Delivery Centre, Cardiff

The Welsh NHS Confederation’s conference

The course will cover the principles of

The training will address the GCP standards

and exhibition is an opportunity to celebrate,

organisational communication, negotiating

and research governance, responsibilities of

motivate and galvanise the NHS and social

and influencing skills.

research staff with regard to investigator site

care, stakeholders and the public towards a

file management, essential documents and

healthier Wales.

quality systems.

Communication skills in research 2 – managing challenges and difficult behaviour

British Journal of General Practice Research Conference

Support & Delivery Service Day 2020

6 March 2020 Health and Care Research Wales Support & Delivery Centre, Cardiff

12 March 2020 RCGP, London

19 March 2020 Mercure Hotel Holland House, Cardiff

The course will cover the principles of

The conference is an exceptional opportunity

Bringing together Health and Care Research

assertive communication, conflict

for researchers at all stages of their careers

Wales support and delivery staff from across

management, principles and practice of

to acquire new research skills and present

Wales to celebrate achievements.

transactional analysis and trouble-shooting.

their work in a constructive, peer-reviewed environment.

NHS R&D Forum Conference 2020

International Clinical Trials Day 2020

Joint Social Work Education and Research Conference

10-12 May 2020 Sage Gateshead Conference Centre, Newcastle

20 May 2020

8-10 July 2020 School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University

Health and Care Research Wales is proud to

20 May 2020 marks 273 years since the start

The Joint Social Work Education and

be a premier sponsor of this event.

of the first clinical trial on board the HMS

Research Conference is the UK’s only


academic conference covering the whole of the social work field.

Health and Care Research Wales Magazine - Issue 07 - November 2019


Health and Care Research Wales conference 2019: partnership and collaboration

Read the conference highlights on our website

Join us on our social media channels


Health and Care Research Wales Magazine - Issue 07 - November 2019

Profile for Health and Care Research Wales

@ResearchWales Issue 7  

@ResearchWales Issue 7