Dr Laura Forker
NIHR Clinical Lecturer
Meet Dr Laura Forker, a former Cancer Research UK Manchester Centre Clinical Research Training Fellow (CRTF) who was successfully awarded an NIHR Clinical Lectureship in 2020.
The NIHR Clinical Lectureship is a post-doctoral award providing a clinical and academic training environment for doctors to establish themselves as independent researchers and leaders. The post is made up of 50% clinical training and 50% academic research. Recruitment at Manchester takes place twice a year in June and October, to be in post by 31st March. Appointments are for the duration of remaining specialty training (until completion of training) or for a maximum of four years, whichever is soonest.
Dr Laura Forker, NIHR Clinical Lecturer & ST5 in Clinical Oncology
Previously CRUK Manchester Centre Clinical Research Training Fellow
PhD Title: Development of a hypoxia biomarker for soft tissue sarcoma
PhD Supervisor: Professor Catharine West
What does your current research/role involve?
As an NIHR Clinical Lecturer, I spend 50% of my time doing clinical work completing my training as a Clinical Oncology specialist registrar and 50% in research. Currently I am working in a 100% clinical role during the COVID-19 pandemic but following this I hope to continue my PhD research on hypoxia and radiotherapy in soft tissue sarcoma and consider new ideas for translational projects in sarcoma research.
What prompted you to apply for an NIHR Clinical Lectureship?
Having recently completed my PhD I was keen to explore opportunities to continue academic training so that I would have protected academic time to concentrate on furthering my translational research skills and explore project ideas to apply for independent funding in the future on completion of my clinical training.
How did your experience as a CRUK Manchester Centre Clinical Research Training Fellow aid this transition?
As a CRUK Manchester Centre CRFT, I had protected time in which I was able to concentrate completely on gaining translational research experience whilst obtaining my PhD. I was well supported and encouraged by my supervisors to lead on as many aspects of my PhD project as possible, which helped me to gain important skills to be developed further during a Clinical Lectureship. Having the CRUK Manchester Centre funding meant I was able to attend courses and meetings and that I was able to generate important data for clinical cohorts using technologies such as RNA-NGS and NanoString.
I was well supported and encouraged by my supervisors to lead on as many aspects of my PhD project as possible, which helped me to gain important skills to be developed further during a Clinical Lectureship.
Dr Laura Forker
NIHR Clinical Lecturer
How does the Clinical Lectureship support your career ambitions?
I hope that as I near the end of my clinical training I will be in a position to apply for independent funding (such as a Clinician Scientist award) to continue translational research projects in soft tissue sarcoma, where there is a need to generate new clinical trial ideas for patients. The Clinical Lectureship will provide time to explore project ideas, generate preliminary data and build on existing collaborations. It will facilitate the process of becoming more independent as a Clinical Academic. In particular, I am hoping to spend some time supervising undergraduate students.
What advice would you give to current CRTFs who might like to apply for a Clinical Lectureship in the future?
It is useful to use the CRTF to determine which aspects of research you enjoy the most, which you are best suited to and where there is an important unmet clinical need, so that you have an idea of what type of research you would like to pursue in your own lab in the future. It is also worth considering whether there are specific areas in which you feel you need more experience. I am hoping to use the Clinical Lectureship to address these questions to be in a strong position to apply for independent funding in the future.