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The NIHR Trainees Co-ordinating Centre held it's 10th Annual NIHR Trainee Meeting 'Research leaders of the future' on 6-7 December, where SPCR GPCP trainee Dr Shoba Poduval won Best Poster Prize.

A total of 37 posters were presented reflecting work currently in progress and research with results. Professor Dave Jones welcomed delegates and highlighted the NIHR's achievements over the past ten years. In particular, he spoke of the role of the NIHR in building research capacity and providing support to trainees through the NIHR Trainees' Co-ordinating Centre (NIHR TCC) indicating that NIHR TCC award numbers have grown from an initial 495 in 2006 to 2295 in 2015. 

I hope the prize helps raise awareness of the importance of helping patients with type 2 diabetes to learn more about managing the condition, avoiding complications and leading healthier lives. - Shoba Poduval

Challenges faced by healthcare researchers were highlighted by Professor Louise Wood when she spoke about the importance of embedding research evidence in the NHS, public health and social care environments and, in doing so, reducing the implementation and evidence gap. The training needs of the future research workforce were also mentioned as key in this preparation as was "developing independent confident researchers".

Prizes were awarded to posters that were engaging, readable and written in plain English. "It has been a useful reminder of the importance of making research clear to patients and the public, in order to foster public engagement and understanding of research" said Shoba.

Also presenting posters at the annual event were Nathan Davies, Claire Burton, Libby Fergie and former trainee Ceire Costelloe.

We asked Shoba about her poster 'Online diabetes structured education: A mixed methods pilot study' , her research interests and future opportunities.

 1. What makes your research topical?

People with type 2 diabetes need more options for learning the skills they need to take care of their diabetes. At the moment face-to-face group courses are available but not everyone who needs them is referred, and of those who are referred only a small percentage actually attend. Some people find it hard to get to face-to-face courses, or don’t like group education. Our online course, HeLP-Diabetes: Starting out, gives people another way of learning, and is easy to access.

2. Did your research expose any gaps that you would like to explore?

We still don’t know how effective, or cost-effective HeLP-Diabetes: Starting out, is compared to the available face-to-face courses. This is the question commissioners need to answer to be able decide whether to offer it to patients. Ultimately we’d like to answer this question by conducting a definitive randomised controlled trial (RCT).

3. Will you be conducting this research?

I am applying for funding from the SPCR for a feasibility trial to see if an RCT would be feasible.

4. Do you/ have you had a mentor during your fellowship?

Although I don't have a formal mentor, this is something I would like to explore. I have benefited from extremely supportive supervisors and colleagues at the Department of Primary Care & Population Health at UCL. I think it’s important to learn from people with different experiences and expertise. There isn’t one right way when it comes to career pathways.

5. What would you suggest to future applicants for the SPCR GP Career Progression fellowship?

I had a SPCR GP Career Progression Fellowship from 2014-2016, and have now started a PhD. I would encourage GPs with an interest in research to find out more about the Fellowships by talking to host departments and current Fellows. It’s an excellent way of getting experience of conducting your own research, and working in an academic department.

6. How has the fellowship helped shape your career?

The Fellowship has allowed me to gain valuable research experience, access training and learn from other researchers in a leading institution. I’ve developed research skills and interests, and have been able to make an informed decision about doing a PhD and pursuing a career in academic primary care.