Skip to main content

Clinical and Biomedical Sciences

INSPIRE: medical students and research

We foster a culture of research and offer many opportunities for our students to take part in research and develop new knowledge in the medicine.

INSPIRE is a project organised by the Wellcome Trust and the Academy of Medical Sciences to encourage medical and dental students to gain experience and understanding of research.

The University of Exeter Medical School and Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry run a joint project involving conferences to showcase the research of junior doctors and students for years 1 and 2 in the autumn, taster days for students to visit research teams and experience what they do and summer research studentships that students can apply for.

Our taster days are planned in conjunction with Cardiff and Bristol medical schools and we will support studentships outside the parent medical school if the application justifies it. In addition, students from all four medical schools will be able to get lead and contribute to a research magazine, and UEMS students will be able to select mentors from junior clinical academics.

Junior clinical academics are also available to mentor student researchers.

The INSPIRE website contains further information about the scheme which involves all UK medical schools.

The INSPIRE research studentships are open to medical students at the University of Exeter Medical School from their first until their penultimate year.

If you have any questions, please contact Dr Jane Smith

Students must have satisfied the requirements for their course progression, and have no outstanding issues with professionalism. Students may only submit one application per year. Students awarded the prize will precluded from further application, but otherwise students may apply on multiple occasions.

Students will need to complete the INSPIRE mini-grant application form, which includes the following parts:

  • a description of the research attachment;
  • details of student’s career and experience of research to date;
  • a statement from the research supervisor/host, outlining how the student will be involved and supervised, and confirming their agreement to host the student.

Four INSPIRE studentships of £1000 (or £1250 for those applying outside UEMS) are available, intended to support the research attachment, and will be awarded to the best application, as judged on the criteria described below. Academic excellence is the main criteria but the applications will be judged with a view to equitable distribution across the two emerging schools. 

This year UEMS has an additional studentship funded by the Paul Lock Memorial Fund. The Paul Lock studentship will fund a project in the field of child health research.

The INSPIRE studentships are not intended to supplement alternative sources of funding for the work planned, but applications to other bodies are not a bar from application. Should a student be awarded funding from another internal or external source in addition to an INSPIRE studentship, they will be expected to choose between them and to withdraw from one. Should the panel become aware of dual funding, it will lead to the studentship being withdrawn.

Entries will be judged by the INSPIRE committee supplemented by the successful students from the year before. The panel will be able to co-opt, or seek review from, relevant experts if a submission is outside their collective expertise. If one of the panel has a personal link to any of the entries, they will be asked to absent themselves from the discussion of that entry and all involved in the review process will keep the contents of applications and panel discussions confidential.

Judging criteria

Entries will be judged against the following criteria:

  • The content and structure of application, and the accuracy of the writing (including grammar and punctuation).
  • Academic potential suggested by the entire application and supported by the reference.

Specific elements to be assessed will include:

  • The research project itself as a learning opportunity
  • The suitability and potential offered by the research attachment
  • The role of this research experience in student’s future career
  • The academic reference

Successful applicants will be expected to present a brief account of their experience at the annual INSPIRE projects conferences and / or at a careers evening the following academic year. A short report will be written within three months of the attachment for INSPIRE Committee, and will be acknowledged by the Prizes and Awards committee at the annual prize giving event.

How to apply

INSPIRE Mini Grant application form

Research studentships are offered by a range of universities and societies as shown by the table below. For more information regarding the duration and funding of these scholarships, please follow the website link shown.x

Action on Hearing Loss Summer Studentship
Alzheimer's Society Undergraduate Bursaries
Amgen Scholar's Program Summer Studentship
Association of Clinical Pathologists ACP Student Research Fund
Biochemical Society Summer Vacation Studentships
British Association of Dermatologists Undergraduate Research Awards
British Society for Cell Biology Summer Studentships
British Society for Developmental Biology Gurdon Studentships for Summer Vacation Work
British Society for Neuroendocrinology BSN Grants and Funding
Caltech's SURF Caltech's Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowships
Coldspring Harbor Laboratory Undergraduate Research Program
Cardiff University Cardiff Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme
DAAD - RISE Summer Internships
hhmi Janelia Research Campus Undergratudate Scholarships Programs
Imperial College London Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme
MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology Summer Studentships
Pathological Society Undergraduate Bursaries
The British Psychological Society Undergraduate Research Assistantship Programme
Society for Endocrinology Summer Studentships
Society of General Microbiology Harry Smith Vacation Studentships
Society for Reproducation and Fertility Vacation Scholarships
The British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy Vacation Scholarships
The Genetics Society Summer Studentships
The Physiological Society Undergraduate Vacation Studentship Scheme
University of Birmingham Undergraduate Research Experience Scheme
University of Bristol Interdisciplinary Research Internships
University College London Summer Vacation Studentships
University of Oregon UO Summer Program for Undergraduate Research
University of York Undergraduate Summer Projects
Wellcome Trust Biomedical Vacation Scholarships

INSPIRE Research Taster Days

Attending a taster day is a good way to make links with potential research supervisors that could result in a funded research studentship later this year.

Research taster days take place on Wednesday afternoons at the end of November/early December.

A range of taster days are offered at local Exeter and Plymouth-based research groups and / or those at Cardiff and Bristol Medical Schools.

The taster days cover a huge range of different topics. You will have the time to meet researchers and see what they do and why they do it.

We have up to £25 per student to support the cost of travel to other medical schools (so keep receipts please).

Attending a taster day is a good way to make links with potential research supervisors that could result in a funded research studentship later this year.

Mentoring is a process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and the psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development.

Mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and a person who is perceived to have less experience (the mentee).

Mentoring scheme in the University of Exeter Medical School

If you would like to meet one or more of the potential mentors listed below, please contact Tamsin Ford with a brief summary explaining who you are, your stage of training and research interests and experience. Please also indicate why you chose that particular mentor and what you hope to get out of the mentorship scheme.

This information will be passed to the mentor, who will meet with you if they have capacity to discuss how mentorship might work.

Both parties have the option to decline or change their minds about the mentorship arrangement at any point, without explanation, but please inform Tamsin Ford to ensure that this is communicated to all parties and that we know how many mentees each volunteer has.

You can find out more about mentorship, with clear advice about how to get the most out of it, on the Academy of Medical Sciences website.


Seb Rotheray    Seb is a Cornishman currently almost contentedly marooned in Devon. He works as a ST5 in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Clinically, Seb is particularly interested in the way that family functioning affects health in childhood and the therapeutic ramifications of this. Most of the research he has done is related to medical education and in particularly mentorship programmes for medical students! Seb has also completed some discrete research projects relating to outcome measures in CAMHS and the use of the Mental Health Act to deliver psychotherapy. Outside of work Seb would like to think of himself as a little piece of Shoreditch located here in rural Devon. However, in reality he says he's a bit of a reformed hobo who enjoys wild swimming, ale and chocolate digestives.
Jason Hancock Jason is a Psychiatry CT3 (soon to be ST4 in old age / adult psychiatry). Clinically he is interested in old age liaison psychiatry. Jason's research interests so far have been quite broad. He is currently completing a Masters in applied health services research. As part of that he is working with the Clozapine clinic to improve the physical health monitoring conducted on patients taking Clozapine making use of implementation science theory and lean methodology. Jason is also currently working on a paper to understand the variation in ambulance calls rates between care homes in Torbay and will soon start a systematic review looking into the diagnostic tools used to assess for depression in dementia. He has also published a paper on the development of a psychometric scale aiming to assess levels of tolerance of ambiguity in medical students and junior doctors.
Daniel Racey Daniel is an ACF/CT3 in Psychiatry. Clinically, he is interested in Child and Adolescent Mental Health but also primary preventative interventions. From a research viewpoint, Daniel's major research is in Mindfulness based approaches to mental health problems experienced by young people. His research has involved very successful collaborations with medical students. Daniel has a degree of experience and a little expertise in feasibility/pilot studies, including quantitative and qualitative analysis. He also has broader interests in gene/environment interactions and the application of evolutionary theory to medicine.
Richard Oram Richard is a clinician specializing nephology, diabetes and transplantation and has worked with Andrew Hattersley and the team at the NIHR Exeter Clinical Research Facility since 2008.
He is interested in the immunological, genetic and clinical factors that influence whether low level insulin production is preserved in Type 1 diabetes, and this forms the basis of ongoing work within the research team. Richard is using the same methods to improve monitoring of patients following transplantation or immunotherapy treatments for Type 1 diabetes.
Mark Gilchrist Mark is a clinical lecturer in renal medicine.  His research interests are mainly centred round investigating the physiology of the nitrate-nitrite- nitric oxide pathway in health and disease states.  Nitrate is synthesised in blood vessels and also obtained from the diet.  It can be converted to nitrite by bacteria in the mouth and then to nitric oxide by multiple mechanisms within the body.  Mark thinks this pathway is important in cardiovascular disease and kidney disease.  Currently he is investigating how kidney disease affects the synthesis and excretion of nitrate to understand if this explains some of the very high cardiovascular morbidity and mortality seen in patients with renal impairment.  Mark is also involved with work looking at how microvascular function is affected by diabetes and kidney disease.  His research work is predominantly clinical in nature with some wet lab work.
Angus Jones Angus is in his final months of registrar training in Daiabetes, Endochrinology and General Medicine and is an NIHR Clinical Lecturer in the diabetes clinical research group (Prof Andrew Hattersley/NIHR Exeter Clinical Research Facility).  His research is entirely clinical and is about what treatments are most effective for individuals with diabetes (stratified medicine) and using clinical features and laboratory tests to accurately classify diabetes and therefore give the right treatment.  To look at questions in this area Angus uses a combination of observational studies and interventional crossover trails and pre-existing data from industry trials and electronic health care records.


INSPIRE Ambassadors

David Allard Cell and molecular biology of cancer and diabetes St Luke's Campus
John Campbell Primary Care St Luke's Campus
Kate Ellacott Biomedical Neuroscience Group Hatherly, Streatham
Tamsin Ford Child Mental Health St Luke's Campus
Willie Hamilton Clinical Diagnostics St Luke's Campus
Karen Knapp Medical Imaging St Luke's Campus
Katarina Kos Obesity and Diabetes RILD Building
Pia Leete Endocrine Pharmacology, Epigenetics, Human Genetics RILD Building
Mark Russell Endocrine Pharmacology, Epigenetics, Human Genetics RILD Building
Sharon Savage Cognitive Neurology St Luke's Campus
Chris Scotton Respiratory related themes St Luke's Campus
Fiona Warren Medical Statistics St Luke's Campus
Katrina Wyatt Health Complexity St Luke's Campus 

Students publish second edition of the INSPIRE Student Health Sciences Research Journal

Students at the University of Exeter Medical School have joined forces with their peers from the universities of Bristol, Cardiff and Plymouth to produce the second edition of the student led reserach journal that showcases original research undertaken in world-class laboratories and clinics by fellow students.

The 'INSPIRE Student Health Sciences Research Journal' is produced by a team of student editors from the four universities. It is a key part of a collaborative project under the national INSPIRE scheme funded by the Wellcome Trust and administered by the Academy of Medical Sciences. 

Read the INSPIRE Journal Second Edition.

Information about the first addition of the journal can be found here INSPIRE Journal.