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Case study: “It is absolutely inspiring” - CRN East of England’s new Clinical Director champions all those adding research to their careers

Dr Effrossyni Gkrania-Klotsas’ vision centres around lifting the barriers to research to recruit more experts into the field.

Dr Effrossyni Gkrania-Klotsas was recently appointed as the new Clinical Director of NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) East of England by regional hosts, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (NNUH). Since joining, Effrossyni has been working closely with Lead Clinical Director, Professor Jeremy Turner, and the Executive Group to lead the CRN East of England strategy and support the region’s drive to grow research.

Effrossyni, a Consultant in Infectious Diseases at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH), completed her medical degree in Greece. It was in the United States that she completed further clinical training, along with a degree in public health, before moving to Cambridge in 2004. There, she completed her PhD and started working as a consultant at the hospital.

“As with every doctor, I want to help. Working with people who have unusual, rare or more challenging problems always motivates you to be at the forefront of what can be done. Sometimes the answer is that we need more answers for a problem, we need more solutions, and this naturally brings you to the need to do clinical research in order to help.”

Prior to her appointment as Clinical Director, Effrossyni had pursued her interest in research through her role as CRN East of England Specialty Lead for Infectious Diseases, which she held for five years. It was through this experience that Effrossyni was inspired to apply for the role of Clinical Director.

“My greatest wish is to facilitate more clinical research in the East of England and beyond, and I have found that having a title allows me to start some conversations to help people through the barriers of delivering clinical research.”

Effrossyni believes that breaking down the barriers to research and “planting seeds” across healthcare departments “can pay multiple dividends in the future” and will not only enable research to become more accessible but will also increase job satisfaction. She said:

“It’s absolutely inspiring when you start to realise how many people have this wish, the experience, and the drive to do research alongside their clinical work.”

“Anybody who is involved in health care should aspire to become involved in research because, ultimately, it’s about the needs of the people, our needs, going into the future. We all have the same motivations and so we just need to find ways of working together and making sure we can maximise on our efficiency.”

Summarising the importance of the NIHR, Effrossyni praises its unique position:

“The NIHR is probably one of the most innovative models in the world to deliver clinical research. It’s funded in an equal way so there’s similar access and opportunities across the country, and the way it is constructed allows for local adaptability and flexibility, which wouldn’t be there otherwise. It has a lot to offer, and I think we’ve only seen the start of what the NIHR can do.”

Looking toward the future, Effrossyni’s vision centres around lifting the barriers to research to recruit more experts into the field:

“I would like to make the whole of the NIHR much more known to everybody. I particularly want to increase our links with social care and public health colleagues, wearing my public health hat in the background. I know that there are some incredibly positive forces subscribing to the mission of the NIHR in these communities, and it’s great to see lots more of them join us in the East of England.”

If you would like to find out how the NIHR can help you add research to your career visit