Tuesday, October 3, 2023

RCSI scholarship programme open to registrars, SpRs and GPs to complete MD research degree

RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences is providing an opportunity for doctors to undertake a two-year Strategic Academic Recruitment (StAR) Doctor of Medicine (MD) Degree through their collaborative scholarship programme.

The programme is an opportunity for surgical and medical registrars / specialist registrars (SpRs), and general practitioners, to implement research and evidence in their clinical careers, to improve patient care and service user experience.

Medical oncologist Dr Lisa Prior, RCSI StAR MD Scholar, is one of 82 candidates who have carried out cutting edge research in a structured environment as part of the programme, since its inception in 2016.

Dr Prior’s research focuses on the use of PI3K inhibitors in overcoming resistance to anti HER2 therapy in advanced HER2 positive breast cancer and harnessing next generation sequencing technologies to identify biomarkers of response and resistance to therapy.

“The StAR MD programme afforded me the opportunity to broaden my horizons and embark on translational research with invaluable support and mentorship from renowned experts in the field of cancer genomics and therapeutics. The organised structure, regular progress reviews and financial support provided an excellent framework which allowed me to achieve my research goals”, Dr Prior explained.

Stroke Medicine physician Dr Jorin Bejleri, a recent RCSI StAR MD graduate, commented on his experience of the programme’s saying it was: ‘by far the most structured, well-organised, and supportive research programme which guaranteed my success throughout the journey’.

“The key to my success was the fantastic synergetic support that I received from my supervisors and every member of the post-graduate school who made me feel that I was an integral part of the team rather than a mere scholar.

Dr Bejleri’s thesis was on the topic: ‘microRNAs as Novel Diagnostic Targets in Acute Ischaemic Stroke’.

“What made this program so attractive, besides the active presence of the academic team, was the financial support which was pivotal in running expensive and advanced state-of-art technologies as part of my research,” Dr Bejleri said.

Each StAR MD Scholar is mentored and supervised by two leading Principal Investigators and receives support through RCSI’s dedicated School of Postgraduate Studies.

“The StAR MD programme offers registrars an opportunity to advance their careers, while ultimately benefiting the health of patients” said Professor Emer Reeves, Deputy Head of RCSI’s School of Postgraduate Studies and Director of the StAR MD programme.

“The programme offers protected research time providing registrars with an environment where they can comfortably focus on quality research while maintaining a foothold in clinical practice.”

“At the heart of the programme is collaboration with academic, hospital and industry partners – engagements which are critical in translating research into improved health outcomes in Ireland and globally.”

RCSI’s StAR MD programme is run in collaboration with Beacon Hospital, Blackrock Clinic, Bon Secours Hospital Dublin, Hermitage Clinic, Highfield Healthcare, Irish College of General Practitioners, Mater Private Network, St Vincent’s Private Hospital, UPMC Sports Surgery Clinic or UPMC Whitfield Waterford.

The StAR MD Programme received industry support from GSK Ireland, Pfizer Ireland, Roche and MSD. Each candidate receives a competitive bursary and resources for research consumables and expenses. They maintain clinical practice through the collaborating partners, who hire StAR MD candidates as employees during the two-year research project and also sponsor MD postgraduate fees.

Applications for 2024 are open until Friday, November 24, 2023. Find out more at rcsi.com/dublin/starmd.

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