Meet Dr Aaron M. Lett

What course do you teach on and what is your role?

Dr Aaron M. Lett I am the pathway lead for Diabetes and Obesity, and co-pathway lead for Human Nutrition on the MRes Clinical Research programme. I am also a personal tutor, project supervisor and module leader for the Diabetes & Obesity specialist module, Critical Appraisal module and Research Project module.

How has your career led you to teach?

Whilst an undergraduate student, I became enamored by academia and developed a strong aspiration to pursue a career reflective of this. Following my BSc and subsequently PhD, I moved into industry. Where for several years, as a principal scientist, I led evidence-synthesis research and human clinical trials in nutrition health claim substantiation. Given the nature of the role, I always maintained a close working relationship with academia and through this held external lecturer and industry research supervisor positions. As the enjoyment I got from the academic nature of my role pulled me in more and more, I decided to make the move officially and joined Imperial College London in 2018. Where I have been involved in driving forward the MRes Clinical Research programme and Section of Nutrition Research since.

What aspect of the course do you enjoy teaching the most?

At its simplest, the MRes Clinical Research programme is a “transitional programme”. By that I mean it’s designed to take students who have shown talent and enthusiasm within their discipline and instill them with the independent research skillset needed to lead and conduct high-quality clinical research within their area of interest. You can see it as we want to take you from “Student” to “Researcher”. To do this effectively we simulate numerous scenarios professional researchers are involved in. This allows our students to be challenged, learn from and engage with situations that develop the broad skillset required authentic to the discipline, as well as acquiring experience directly relevant to professional practice - It's these environments I enjoy teaching within the most! Our grant writing workshop is a great example of this, where we simulate the entire grant application process across one intense week. From idea conception, to study design, to application and funding elevator pitch. This is all student driven, and we even recreate the meetings you would have with the Head of Department and Finance to ensure applications are competitive and to budget! It's excellent to see the creativity, professionalism and innovation students show whilst further developing and applying the skills they have learnt during the course.

What do you hope your students will go on to achieve on completion of this course?

I am very proud of the fact that the MRes Clinical Research programme consistently produces innovative, independent, skilled clinical researchers year after year. The hard and soft skillset MRes graduates possess allows them to pursue a range of career options. The most common career step for our graduates is to continue their research career on to a PhD, either at Imperial or elsewhere. A number of graduates move into scientific and research roles within the pharmaceutical, medical devices, vaccines, and food industries. Those students from clinical backgrounds often combine their professional and research skills and follow the clinical academic career pathway, or use the skills acquired on the MRes to further benefit their clinical practice.

What is your favorite part about teaching at Imperial College London?

There is a good reason why Imperial College London is consistently ranked as one of the best universities in the world, and that is the quality of the research and education we consistently provide and produce. The atmosphere is one that wants to push boundaries, achieve, and discover, and both students and staff are at the heart of this. To be a part of and contribute to this community and its reputation is a privilege and one that continually motivates me.