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Case study: AHP campaign: Gemma Stanford on her research career

Read Gemma's research story.

We are putting Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) working in research in the spotlight as part of a Pan-London National Institute for Health and Care Research Clinical Research Network (CRN) campaign, which includes CRN North Thames, CRN South London, CRN North West London and CRN Kent, Surrey and Sussex. This month, we spoke to Gemma Stanford, a Highly Specialist Physiotherapist in Adult Cystic Fibrosis working at Royal Brompton Hospital, which is part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

How did you first get involved in research?

I am lucky to work in a very research-active team. I started to attend journal clubs and research meetings and then got involved in observing some clinical trials. This experience sparked my interest in doing more!

What has been the highlight of your research career so far?

For me, it is working with my PhD supervisor as co-Principal Investigators on a research project called the YOGA-CF trial. We have just been awarded funding to investigate the effects of yoga for adults with cystic fibrosis - a project a friend and I dreamt up during the COVID-19 pandemic, which we can now make a reality!

What skills do you think are needed for a career in research?

Effective communication is key - talking to team members and potential collaborators, leading meetings and tailoring dissemination and communications to suit your participants, the public and professional colleagues is so important. Also, being able to recognise when to ask for help - research can be tricky, but most of the time, someone has already had the same issue, so asking for support enhances your development as a researcher.

Why do you believe research is important?

Research is the basis of all good clinical practice. Knowing why we do things and their effect is essential to providing the best service for our patients.

What are your plans and ambitions for the future?

Being a co-investigator on the YOGA-CF trial will be an exciting challenge for the next two years. My other ambition for the future is to facilitate clinical academic careers becoming the norm across the NHS for non-medical professionals.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

The idea of doing research can be scary, but from my experience, the research community is very supportive, and everyone is happy to help you every step of the way - don't be afraid to reach out for support and to start your research journey!

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