Case study: South London professor on how to thrive in research
Meet Professor Carsten Flohr, our Research Specialty Lead for Dermatology.
We spoke to our Research Specialty Lead for Dermatology, Professor Carsten Flohr, about his research career for the NIHR's Shape the Future campaign. The campaign aims to celebrate and recognise NHS staff who make research possible.
Professor Flohr is a Consultant Dermatologist at St John's Institute of Dermatology at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust. He is also chair of Dermatology and Population Health Science at King's College London.
How did you first get involved in research?
I started my research career in dermatology as a Research Fellow working with Hywel Williams in Nottingham (NIHR Senior Investigator Emeritus) in 2002. I then spent three years at an Oxford Research Unit in Vietnam as part of my PhD, studying the protective effects of gut parasites on the development of allergic diseases, including eczema.
What has been the highlight of your research career so far?
For me, it was conducting the multi-centre TREAT trial, which compared two systemic immuno-modulatory treatments (ciclosporin and methotrexate, which are drugs that change the body's immune response) for severe eczema in children and young people across 13 sites in the UK and Ireland. The randomised controlled trial was NIHR funded, and the results have just been published.
What skills do you think are needed for a career in research?
You need to be able to spot opportunities and then pursue them against any odds. For instance, working in Vietnam was incredibly challenging but a great experience at the same time. You need to be a team player, be able to spot talent in others and work collaboratively in a team, including with people outside of your field.
What does your role as a Research Specialty Lead for NIHR CRN South London entail?
I support and coordinate the south London dermatology research portfolio, in particular, supporting clinical colleagues in district general hospitals with less research experience.
Why do you believe research is important?
We can make a big difference to our patients through clinically focused research.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I was very fortunate to receive 11 years of personal funding through NIHR Fellowships (Clinician Scientist, Clinical Trials Fellowship, Career Development Fellowship). Without this, I would not have been able to develop my clinical research career as I have.
You can find out more about the Shape the Future campaign on the NIHR's website.