University of Birmingham awarded two national awards to unlock talent in health research

Birmingham receives two of 10 prestigious National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Incubator awards to grow capacity in national priority areas.

Incubators are virtual and bespoke to their community. They provide funding to help stakeholders identify barriers to research capacity and find solutions. They play an important role in attracting, training and supporting researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future.

Professor Yemisi Takwoingi from the Institute of Applied Health Research will lead the Race Equity and Diversity in Careers Incubator with Professor Mahendra Patel, University of Oxford. This Incubator aims to attract and inspire people from ethnic minority backgrounds to pursue and progress in careers in health and care research.

Professor Takwoingi said, “This is an exciting opportunity with the support of a wide range of stakeholders and partners to build capacity and drive momentum for a diverse and inclusive talent pipeline that ensures research careers are accessible to a broader range of people for excellent, innovative and impactful research.”

Professor Alastair Denniston from the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing, the NIHR Birmingham Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), and University Hospitals Birmingham will lead an Incubator focused on how Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other digital technologies should be regulated for use in healthcare. The Regulatory Science in AI and Digital Healthcare Incubator will draw from Professor Denniston’s extensive experience as co-lead of the BRC’s Data, Diagnostics and Decision Tools research theme.

Alastair Denniston

Professor Alastair Denniston

With any health technology – including those based on AI – we need to be confident that they work reliably and are safe. Our current systems for evaluating and regulating medical devices are struggling to keep pace with these newer technologies. The Regulatory Science in AI and Digital Healthcare Incubator will help build a research community that can work with regulators to ensure that the technologies that come through to patients are effective, safe and inclusive.

Professor David Adams, Head of the College of Medical and Dental Sciences at the University of Birmingham, said: “These awards recognise Birmingham’s research excellence, and our commitment to bringing research communities together to address some of the most pressing challenges and opportunities in healthcare. We are delighted to see Professor Takwoingi and Professor Denniston providing national leadership in these high priority areas.”

Associate Dean of NIHR Academy, Professor Anne-Maree Keenan said: “I am delighted to announce the funding for these 10 Incubators which will help overcome barriers to early career researchers in these areas. They will work closely with the community to address their needs and play an important role in supporting under-represented groups and areas of research most in need. “I am excited to see the positive changes they can make. They will help the NIHR shine a spotlight on these crucial areas and think creatively about how to solve the issues that they face.

Selected Projects:

Organically grow the holistic world view of disruptive innovation via workplace diversity and empowerment of everyone.