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Your Path in Research: Briony Dillon, Lead Research Practitioner, Agile Research Delivery Team

Briony Dillon, Lead Research Practitioner, Agile Research Delivery Team

Briony leads a newly-formed team tasked with transforming the delivery of research in a wider variety of community, social care and non-NHS settings. Here she describes her background in research and what she loves about the job.


When did you first get involved in research?

I first got involved straight after graduating from my undergraduate degree in Anatomy and Human Biology, by gaining a place on an NHS graduate scheme (the Scientist Training Programme). The programme trains science graduates to have both clinical skills and clinical research skills, becoming qualified hybrid practitioners. My specialism was Audiology, and the programme involved doing my clinical training alongside completing an MSc. From the patients I was seeing every day in my clinical role, I developed a particular interest in the decision making process for adults with severe-profound hearing loss and cochlear implantation, and could see there was a gap in the literature at the time. This inspired the topic of my MSc research project, and the project took off from there, going through ethics approval, recruitment, data collection, analysis and write up, to finally being published.

Why did you decide to get involved?

I’m passionate about doing our best for patients, and think patient centred care should be the focus of every clinician. I see research as the perfect way to enable this, allowing our patients to contribute to how their healthcare is shaped, and ensuring healthcare reflects the needs of the people it serves.

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

On a personal level - seeing my MSc research project get published in an international journal. Knowing that the results of my study will be read by other clinicians around the world and hopefully positively influence the care their patients receive is very fulfilling. On a professional level – seeing the amazing R&D response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the part we all played in getting research from concept to treatment in just months, including the multiple vaccines.

Why do you believe research is important?

Everything we do and have available to us in healthcare today is a result of research of the past. We’re currently working on the future’s standard of care, and laying the foundations for even more advances, which is great to be a part of.

What do you love about your job?

I love the variety of the day to day, the flexibility, and the scope for personal and professional development. Working on a study going from the set up stages all the way to achieving its target is very satisfying!

Why would you recommend research as a career to others?

It’s a career where there is endless potential for growth, and options to flex your career around your life stage. Working in research and the skills I’ve learnt along the way have opened lots of unexpected doors for me, including chances to continue working in an academic capacity alongside my NHS job, and an opportunity to become a Trustee of a local charity. I’ve been able to progress into a leadership position that would have taken years longer had I stayed in a purely clinical role, because the level of strategic thinking and planning involved in research means there are more leadership opportunities.


Find out how you can be part of research on the National Institute for Health Research website.