Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

SPCR researchers Drs Fiona Stevenson (UCL) and Evan Kontopantelis (Manchester) have been selected to join the next cohort on The Oxford International Primary Care Research Leadership Programme (formerly the Brisbane Initiative).

The programme aims to develop future leaders in primary care research and is designed to help participants explore different aspects of leadership. 

We asked the researchers what they hoped to gain from the experience:

Fiona Stevenson

Senior Lecturer in Primary Care & Population Health, Institute of Epidemiology & Health at University College London. 

Q:  Which of your strengths do you feel helped your application?

I am the only medical sociologist in primary care at UCL, and combine methodological skills with an understanding of the wider social and contextual factors which I believe are important for primary care research.  I have extensive experience of multi-disciplinary working, to which I provide rigorous qualitative work, the importance of which is increasingly recognised.

Q: What do you hope to gain from this opportunity?

The Oxford International Primary Care Research Leadership Programme provides a unique combination of small group work, mentoring and networking opportunities which I hope will help me to develop my career.  It provides protected time away from my Department to discuss and develop ideas with a range of other people at a similar level in their career but from different backgrounds and with different experiences of working in primary care.  The international dimension is particularly exciting. I am hoping the progamme will help me to foster strategic thinking; develop my ability to articulate and operationalise my vision for future research; and ensure my research has maximum impact on practice / health care. 

Q: How will this opportunity help you to contribute to SPCR research in the future?

This opportunity will help me to develop and clarify my thinking on a number of levels from research strategy to specific projects and maximising impact which can be fed into my work with the SPCR not just in terms of research ideas but also wider strategies, for example in my current role on the SPCR PPI Working Group.

Evan Kontopantelis 

Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Primary Care, Institute of Population Health at the University of Manchester. 

Q: Which of your strengths do you feel helped your application?

My background is in statistical programming and computer engineering and the research landscape is changing: we are moving from small randomised controlled trials of 50 to 300 patients to massive interconnected databases of millions of patients, containing an incredible wealth of information that is waiting to be harvested. When people ask me what I do, even colleagues, I find it hard to explain: I’m not an “old-school” statistician but not a typical primary care researcher either. I’d like to think that a mix of methodological and health services research expertise is my major strength.

Q: What do you hope to gain from this opportunity?

There are numerous outcomes that I hope to achieve: first, I’d like to network with ambitious colleagues within the School who are at a similar level in their career; second, I’d like to draw on the experience of more senior colleagues which will be pertaining to a top academic level, allowing me to better plan my future career path; third, Oxford is not the worst place to visit…

Q: How will this opportunity help you to contribute to SPCR research in the future?

Provided the above outcomes are met, a new research network will be there for me to use (and be used by), and collaboration opportunities and peer-support are an important stepping stone to achieving my career goals. In addition, the expert feedback will help me better understand research targets at a top level, from a strategic and planning point of view.

The International Leadership Programme has given us a unique opportunity to extend our professional networks and broaden our horizons, either through discussions in Oxford or by visiting other departments.

Being part of this excellent research network increases (young) researchers motivation in research and self-confidence in advancing their career, and is also a figurehead on the CV.

Our cohort is a safe place to reflect on our work, career progression and balance between personal life and work. We learned leadership skills to increase our personal effectiveness and to distinguish between signal and noise. The cohort offers a tremendous peer support in all of these aspects.

- Christian Mallen and Cohort 3

The SPCR funds two candidates a year and previous members have included: Matthew Ridd (Bristol), Kate Walters (UCL), Tom Blakeman (Manchester), Ceire Costelloe (Bristol), Sarah Slight (Nottingham), Christian Mallen (Keele) and Jeremy Howick (Oxford). The programme is hosted by the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford.

For more information, please visit

Similar stories

Packing an emotional punch: Using theatre to raise awareness of doctors’ mental health

Dr Ruth Riley's SPCR funded qualitative study to explore the barriers and facilitators to help-seeking by General Practitioners with mental health problems was added to the NIHR website as a case study earlier this month.