The impact our Research Training Fellows make is great. Their work had led to patient and healthcare sector benefits:
- Influencing policy and guidelines
- Improving clinical practice and patient care on topics such as vaccine use, epilepsy, pregnancy management, preterm birth and developing diagnostic techniques
- Developing treatments for life-threatening and life-limiting conditions.
Professor Bobby Gaspar is an expert in paediatrics and immunology at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health in London.
Professor Gaspar was awarded an Action fellowship in the early 1990s. He studied two life-threatening immunodeficiency disorders, which occur when the body’s natural immune system is absent or not working properly. At that time, the conventional treatment for these disorders was bone marrow transplant, which carries risk if the donor match is poor. Professor Gaspar’s pioneering work has led to new gene therapy treatments which are now saving children’s lives.
Professor Gaspar comments: “I received three year Research Training Fellowship funding which allowed me to complete my PhD. This was my academic foundation; it set me on the road to my academic and clinical career.”
Dr Lily Islam is a consultant in genetics at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust – one of the UK's largest teaching Trusts.
When Dr Islam was awarded an Action fellowship in 2009, she set out to help blind and partially sighted children and found a number of genetic changes that cause childhood blindness. In one family, Dr Islam identified a gene that had not previously been associated with blindness. Dr Islam’s work has already led to new genetic tests, with one being offered nationally.
Dr Islam says: “In my experience, families greatly value having a genetic diagnosis. It means we can explain why their child has eyesight problems and how their vision might change in the future. We can also offer families genetic counselling, if they want to find out what their chances are of having another affected baby with eyesight problems.”