North West London Research Symposium

CATO runs a number of events to support the development of clinical academics/researchers across the Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC). The events are for clinical staff from all AHSC partner members: Imperial College London (ICL), Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (ICHT), Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust (RBHT), The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust (RMH), Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) who are either already doing or interested in undertaking research.

On this page you will find details about upcoming CATO events, materials from previous events and other news that we hope will be of interest to you.


Due to the ongoing situation regarding Covid-19, CATO events have been adapted to comply with social distancing requirements and will be running online via Microsoft Teams or Zoom. 

Current CATO Events

Thinkwrite: Writing grant proposals & writing quality papers

Tuesday 12 October 2021, 09.30-13.00hrs (Zoom) - Writing targeted grant proposals … reducing time while increasing success

Tuesday 16 November 2021, 09.30-13.00hrs (Zoom) - Writing Quality papers … a strategic approach to getting published in your target journal

FULLY BOOKED - Please contact if you would like to be informed if we run additional sessions in the future and include the AHSC organisation where you are employed.

Guidance to applicants
  • Demand for CATO courses is high, therefore you are expected to manage your booking carefully and to cancel with adequate notice, allowing your place to be offered to others. If you feel it necessary to cancel your place on the day of the course, please contact the CATO team as early as possible so they can make a note of your absence.

  • All correspondence about courses will be sent by email, so applicants are advised to check their email accounts regularly for updates.

  • All CATO events are provided free of charge to participants. However, to plan and deliver the events requires a considerable time and work from CATO colleagues, speakers and others. All CATO events are funded through the Imperial College Academic Health Science Centre (Imperial College London, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and The Institute of Cancer Research).


Previous event highlights

Preparing for a pre-doctoral fellowship application: 13 October 2021

Our ‘Preparing for a Pre-Doctoral Fellowship Application’ event took place on Wednesday 13 October 2021.

This session was designed for NMAHPPs (Nurses, Midwives, Allied Health Professionals, Healthcare Scientists, Pharmacy Staff and Psychologists) who are considering applying for a pre-doctoral fellowship in 2021/2022 or 2022/2023, and aims to cover those applying to any Pre-doctoral Fellowship Programme (i.e, NIHR PCAF, Imperial Health Charity Pre-doctoral fellowship, Charity-funded fellowships from Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust and the Royal Marsden fellowships).

Over 25 NMAHPPs from across the AHSC attended the event. We heard from Professor Mary Wells on the different fellowships available and how they vary and from Professor Caroline Alexander on what factors you need to consider to be successful. We were also joined by Juliet Albert who talked to us about her personal experience of preparing for a pre-doctoral fellowship, before participants broke out into small workshop groups to help navigate their specific hurdles.

If you registered to attend the event and would like a copy of ther recording or the slides please contact


Academic Opportunities for Junior Doctors: 4 October 2021

This year’s Academic Opportunities for Junior Doctors event was held virtually and attended by around 65-70 delegates at different stages in their research career from across North West London. The event provided information about kick-starting and developing a clinical academic career for those already in a clinical academic training post thinking about their next steps, or those currently in clinical training considering applying for a clinical academic post. A representative from the NIHR discussed the research training Fellowships they offer. The afternoon was jam-packed with vital information about the wide range of research opportunities available at Imperial and nationally, before and into PhDs, and beyond, and best advice about how to succeed. As well as informative talks, participants had opportunities to question speakers and have a wide-ranging discussion.

We have included the pdf presentation materials from speakers below;

This event was recorded and is available to view on YouTube

We received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the participants with main objective of finding out more about research careers. Some key comments included:

“The event was very well organised with excellent speakers. Thank you”

“Very knowledgeable speakers who have gone through the process themselves”

“Fantastic event, lots of information but laid out in a comprehensible way”

“Thank you, I have learnt about some of the opportunities out there and how to go searching for others”

“Slides, guest speakers, very well presented and clearly outlined”

Discussion on work-life balance was excellent and I will definitely bear this in mind”

North West London research symposium 2021: 23 September

Our 2021 North West Symposium took place on Thursday 23 September.

This event was aimed at NMAHPPs (Nurses, Midwives, Allied Health Professionals, Healthcare Scientists, Pharmacy Staff and Psychologists) across North West London who are either thinking of taking a research postgraduate course, wondering about pursuing a research career or are already involved in healthcare research.

Due to ongoing restrictions, this event took place online but was very well attended with over 70 NMAHPPs from across 10 NHS trusts.

This year’s keynote speaker was Ruth Endacott, the newly appointed Director of Nursing and Midwifery at the NIHR. Ruth shared with us her unorthodox journey to becoming a clinical academic, how her curiosity as a nurse led her to her PhD topic and all of the struggles and lessons she has learned along the way. Ruth also shared with us her advice on how you can develop your track record as a scholar, researcher, clinician and a grant writer.

We were also joined by Justin Roe, a Lead Speech and Language Therapist at ICHT and RMH. Justin spoke to us about his ‘research journey’ and how he has gone from working in social services with people with learning disabilities to the internationally recognised clinical academic he is today, and how the support offered to him throughout his career has been vital to his learning and his development.

Following on from Justin, we welcomed Gemma Stanford and Shawn Walker. Gemma and Shawn were chosen from the best of the abstracts submitted and delivered oral presentations of their research.  It was fascinating to hear about both of their work; Gemma’s on ‘Investigating outcome measures for physiotherapy trials of airway clearance in adults with cystic fibrosis’ and Shawn’s on ‘Physiological breech birth training: an evaluation of clinical practice changes following a one-day training program’.

In a Q&A session, hosted by Susanne Cruickshank and James Harris, we also got to hear from three of the judges' favourite poster submissions:

  1. Michelle Broderick: Self-directed gaming exercises for stroke upper limb impairment increase exercise duration by more than two-fold compared to standard care.
  2. Sara Garfield: Supporting medicines management for patients who are housebound: Learning from qualitative data obtained during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. Simona Racaru: An explanation of access to care for adults with diabetic foot disease.

To conclude the main session our chairs, Caroline Alexander and Mary Wells, hosted a conversation with Waljit Dhillo, Dean of the NIHR Academy, who spoke to us about the focus and priorities for him in his new role.

Finally, attendees were then given the chance to join one of three fantastic workshops; one led by the Patient Experience Research Centre on diversity in research and the challenges to including under-represented groups in research; one led by James Harris on the principles of implementation and improvement science and one led by Susie Edwards on imposter syndrome and tools and techniques that can be used positively to counteract thinking and behaviour.

Where possible, we have included links to the slides and information shared on the day below for those who were not able to attend:

Professor Ruth Endacott- The accidental clinical academic: some reflections (Ruth Endacott: Slide Deck - PDF)‌‌

Workshop A: Diversity in research: Patient, public and staff participation and involvement (PERC Slide Deck and Resources - PDF)‌

Workshop B: Clinical researcher and Imposter syndrome – strategies to re-think and re-energise (Imposter Syndrome Slide Deck and Resources- PDF)

CATO Research Symposium: 30 June 2021

The 2021 CATO Research Symposium took place virtually on Wednesday 30 June.

The event was very well attended with over 75 delegates including Doctors and NMAHPPs (Nurses, Midwives, Allied Health Professionals, Healthcare Scientists, Pharmacy Staff and Psychologists) from a range of different clinical academic pathways.

The event kicked off with oral presentations, chosen from the best of the abstracts submitted and we heard from:

  • Alice Lee (Academic Foundation Programme Trainee): Outcome reporting in therapeutic mammaplasty: a systematic review
  • Ravi Mehta (Academic Clinical Fellow): Viperin-derived ddhC as a novel serum biomarker for COVID-19 and other viral infections
  • Gemma Stanford (Healthcare Professional, clinical academic): Investigating outcome measures for physiotherapy trials of airway clearance in adults with cystic fibrosis
  • Maria Dwornik (Clinical Research Training Fellow): Cardiac microstructure in asymptomatic sarcomere variant carriers
  • Andrew McArdle (Clinical Research Training Fellow): Immunomodulator treatment of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children
  • Charlotte Short (Clinical Lecturer): Vaginal microbiota, genital inflammation and extracellular matrix remodelling collagenase: MMP-9 in pregnant women with HIV, a potential mechanism for excess preterm birth?

We were delighted to be joined for our keynote session by Professor Anne Lingford-Hughes, a Professor of Addiction Biology at Imperial College London. Professor Lingford-Hughes gave a compelling talk about her journey to becoming a clinical academic, the research she has been involved with over the years and how she manages to juggle all the other balls of a clinical academic home life.

Finally, attendees had the choice to attend one of two fantastic workshops; one with Professor Mary Wells looking at what research impact is, how it can be captured and how to achieve it; and one with Professor Sejal Saglani on top tips for writing winning grants including where to look for funding, how to set realistic timelines and how to get the most from internal peer reviews.

We have included the presentation materials below from the workshops

Professor Mary Wells - Research impact: beyond impact factors

Prof Sejal Saglani -Top tips for writing winning grants

Feedback from the event has been very positive with 100% of delegates rating the event as excellent or good. Key comments included:

'The presenters were very interesting and informative'

'Excellent organization and interesting topics'

'I enjoyed the diversity of the presentations'

Maximising the Impact of your Masters Degree: 17 June 2021

Maximising the Impact of your Masters Degree took place on the 17 June 2021.

The session was led by Dr Donna Kennedy and Dr Enrique Castro-Sanchez and was aimed at NMAHPP's (Nurses, Midwives, Allied Health Professions, Healthcare Scientists, Pharmacists, Psychologists) who are just finishing or have recently completed their Masters degree. Over 20 NMAHPPs from across the Imperial AHSC attended.

Donna and Enrique put together an engaging and interactive programme with sessions including developing a dynamic research profile, writing a winning abstract and developing impactful visual research summaries.

They were also joined by Smaragda Lampridou, a Cardiac Health & Rehabilitation Nurse Specialist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, who shared with us her journey to gaining her Masters and the impacts that it has had on her, her team and her clinical practice.

We have included some of the presentation materials below:

Writing a Winning Abstract - Donna Kennedy (PDF)

Developing a dynamic research profile - Enrique Castro-Sanchez (PDF)

Developing impactful visual research summaries (PDF)

CATO Masterclass: Intermediate Fellowships: 26 April 2021

The CATO Masterclass is the first virtual event of the year which took place on Monday 26 April 2021. The session was well attended with 60 attendees from across the Imperial AHSC, including both doctors and NMAHPPs (Nurses, Midwives, Allied Healthcare Professionals, Healthcare Scientists, Pharmacists and Psychologists). 

Colleagues received talks from Prof Iain McNeish, Prof Sejal Saglani and Dr Ali abbara about different stages of the application and interview process, as well as a session at the end available for all attendees to ask questions about their next steps into an intermediate fellowship.

Slides from the session can be found below:

Prof Iain McNeish - Insights from CRUK Fellowship Selection Panels - 26.04.21

Prof Sejal Saglani - My intermediate Fellowship interview experience - 26.04.21

Dr Ali Abbara - How to win a clinician scientist award - 26.04.21

News stories

Dr Caroline Alexander awarded a Professor of Practice

Congratulations to Chair of the Clinical Academic Research Committee, Caroline Alexander, on being awarded a Professor of Practice (Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy).

Professor Alexander works very closely with the CATO team, providing professional leadership and support to research staff working within ICHT as well as working with strategic partners to grow the capacity and capability of physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and dieticians (therapists) principally, but including AHPs more widely, to become research aware, research-ready and research-active.

Our colleagues from the Healthcare Professional Academic Group (HPAG) caught up with Caroline to discuss her achievement, you can read the full article on their website.

ACF scheme successful in developing careers in research

A study has been conducted to examine the impact of the NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow (ACF) model, over its first 10 years, in developing clinical academic careers by tracking the progression of ACF trainees.

The full report can be accessed on BMJ Journals here.

Frontline insights: the Imperial academics at the centre of the NHS response to COVID-19

This Imperial Stories piece highlights eleven clinical academics who have shared their experiences of joining the NHS frontline during the peak of the pandemic and how they are shaped by this experience. They talk about the many challenges and difficulties of working in hospitals during this time as well as the moments of hope, joy and camaraderie and how the public’s support has been gratefully received whilst tackling this pandemic.

To read the article, please click here