For more than 40 years Action Medical Research has run a prestigious Research Training Fellowship scheme, funding 174 Fellowships at a total value of over £12 million.
This scheme supports promising doctors and researchers early in their careers and develops future leaders in children’s research. Our fellows carry out a key piece of research to help children and undertake training to develop their research expertise.
We are proud that some of the leading children’s researchers today were once Action Research Training Fellows. Professor Bobby Gaspar was awarded a fellowship back in the 1990s and studied two life-threatening immunodeficiency disorders, which occur when the body’s natural immune system is absent or not working properly. At this 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.
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,
Around 25,000 children in the UK are blind or partially sighted, like Jack (pictured), and often it is unclear exactly what causes these children’s eyesight problems - making it difficult to identify the best treatment. Thanks to Dr Lily Islam, with a fellowship from Action, a number of genetic changes that cause childhood blindness have been discovered and a new test developed to help explain the causes of specific eyesight problems.
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 baby affected by eyesight problems.
The impact our fellows make is great. Their work had led to patient and healthcare sector benefits – influencing policies and guidelines and improving clinical practice and patient care on topics such as vaccine use, epilepsy, pregnancy management, preterm birth and developing diagnostic techniques, as well as developing treatments for life-threatening and life-limiting conditions.