The INSPIRE scheme aims to encourage student doctors, dentists and vets to consider a career in research, and encourages publication of their work.

Students launch new health 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 launch a new 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.

The INSPIRE scheme aims to encourage student doctors, dentists and vets to consider a career in research, and encourages publication of their work. Since the scheme began in 2013 the South West INSPIRE partnership has supported more than 70 vacation studentships as well as prize awards. Together with local matched funding, this has enabled students to undertake research projects under the supervision of senior scientists and clinicians.

Following a competition in 2015, a team of seven senior editors came together to set up the journal from scratch in order to provide a platform for publication of student project results, as well as to have direct experience of academic peer review.

Among them was Amy Hough, a Year 4 Medicine student from the University of Exeter Medical School. Taking part in the scheme and the journal has helped shape her career ambitions to become a clinical academic, involved in both practice and research. Her dream was shaped after an INSPIRE grant enabled her to spend a Summer in a laboratory studying tumour cells. “It was fantastic – it was invaluable experience of a laboratory environment, which you don’t normally get as part of a Medicine degree.”

Amy said the process of creating the journal had developed professional skills on planning, collaboration and networking, and said: “It has been a steep and challenging learning curve in getting this journal to publication, but I think the finished product is a remarkable taste of the huge variety of high quality student research going on in the South West. A huge amount of work by countless people has gone into the journal and I feel privileged to be a part of it, and to share it with our readers.”

Tamsin Ford, professor of child and adolescent psychiatry, University of Exeter, said: “INSPIRE has provided a unique platform from which we have successfully encouraged students to get involved in research; we are extremely grateful to the Wellcome Trust and Academy of Medical Sciences for supporting the students and us with this scheme.”

The first issue of the journal is available online, and includes reports about stress in neurosurgeons, efforts to tackle high numbers of maternal deaths in India, tooth donation and the future of dentistry, the development of new diagnostic tests for Addison’s disease in dogs, and development of a laboratory cell culture system for studying the kidney disease cystinuria. There are also interviews with leading academic researchers about their chosen careers and conference reports on topics including human fertility.

The student-led journal is one of many local and regional activities involving partnership between the universities of Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter and Plymouth. Besides vacation studentships, activities include an intercalators’ conference each October at which students can hear about opportunities to study for a science degree, and hear about the experiences of previous intercalating students.

Download the first issue of the journal here.

To join the mailing list or submit an article idea, contact the editors of INSPIRE Student Health Sciences Journal email: inspirestudentjournal@gmail.com

Date: 14 October 2016

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