Blog - Houghton Dunn Fellowship
Updated: May 30
Dr Avni Hindocha has written a lovely blog post about her Houghton Dunn Research and Innovation Pump-Prime Fellowship, which she started in February 2023. Read below for fellowship application tips!
"I applied for the fellowship to gain experience in paediatric public health and health inequalities research in Manchester. This was building on work I had started during my OOPE in Lancaster on a national research project, but with the support of my supervisor, I applied for funding to lead on this research in a different direction. Two part-time paediatric fellowships were awarded from one post, which was not the initial intention, and shows that there is flexibility in how the fellowships are awarded. As well as my salary, I was also lucky to be awarded funding to run engagement events which ensured participants could be paid for their time, and other consumables.
The application was straightforward and completed with the support of my supervisor and Prof Banerjee who both have experience in competitive funding applications, which I would definitely recommend securing in advance. I would also recommend getting your contract with MFT sorted before starting to ensure timely payment. Get to know your research manager early so that you can touch base and seek advice as to how things are run in the research departments. We were required to present to key members of MFT research and the charity in advance of the fellowship, as well as the donors of the Houghton Dunn award, but it was also a great way to network with the other participants.
Whereas the other fellowships were more traditional clinical research, public health is a hugely different field, however it is one that the audience of the MFT launch event were very enthusiastic about! This fellowship gave me the time to explore and complete a scoping review with support of a university institution. I was also able to hold engagement events with different groups of children, young people, and families in parts of Greater Manchester to understand themes of their experiences, as co-participation and design is essential to designing future research particularly in the field of health inequalities. I also explored the paediatric data specific to MFT to better understand our patient population and the differences from the general population - again this was in collaboration with the clinical data science unit.
Thanks to the fellowship experience, I was offered a PhD in health inequalities at the University of Manchester, and I was also lucky enough to be offered run through public health training in the NIHR academic clinical fellowship theme, which will give me a broader grounding and support into starting a PhD using the findings from this work. My advice would be to find a willing supervisor, additional research support if they are not an academic, and apply - they are keen to invest in clinicians and their research. Paediatrics is one of the BRC key research themes and so an application from a trainee would always be a very competitive application."