We are delighted to invite applications for two Dinwoodie PhD training fellowships at the Cicely Saunders Institute, King’s College London as part of a Dinwoodie engagement and education programme within the BuildPall capacity building programme at the Institute. The BuildPall programme is building a cadre of leading clinical academics, researchers and educators to develop the medical specialty of palliative care, to train future clinicians and generate knowledge through research, and to improve the treatment and care provided by clinical terms for people affected by serious illness.
The two PhD training fellowships is funded by The Dinwoodie Charitable Trust and supported by the Cicely Saunders International. The three-year PhD Training Fellowship awards will enable two talented individuals to complete substantial research related to palliative care, breathlessness, equity, and support for patients and families, and to transform research findings into novel education programmes, impact and research publications.
The post-holders will generate evidence to answer urgent questions in a) the management of severe breathlessness in advanced diseases, and b) to increase access and reduce inequities by better understanding symptom trajectories and predictors of likely need. Both will foster new multi-disciplinary collaborations to connect silos, improve treatment and create a step change in the medical management. They will support workshops, clinical guidance and expand research methods. They will contribute educational materials to be made freely available and undertake engagement to ensure wide reach of the activities, and identify and work with beacon services who will spearhead the implementation of the findings and share these with others.
The post-holders will also work closely with colleagues and other PhD students within the Cicely Saunders Institute of Palliative Care, Policy and Rehabilitation located at the King’s College London Denmark Hill Campus and benefit from experienced mentors and colleagues at the Cicely Saunders Institute, and the vibrant programmes of research and education.
Successful candidates will have the opportunity to work with and learn from world renowned researchers and clinicians to establish themselves as promising leaders within the field of palliative and end-of-life care. Their outputs will benefit the care of people affected by life limiting illness, and the clinicians who care for them. King’s College London was ranked first overall, and for outputs, impact and environment, in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (Applied Health Unit), which included assessment of its development of early career research students and staff.
The awardees will develop a diverse set of research skills, including qualitative and quantitative methods, and gain experience in research of national and international significance. With the guidance and mentorship of experienced researchers, they will lead the design, implementation, and dissemination of a research study related to breathlessness, equity, and support for patients and families. They will be active in supporting ongoing research at the Cicely Saunders Institute, training others and spreading knowledge with current and future leaders in the field. Additionally, the post-holders will have the opportunity to undertake leadership training alongside their research, to ensure that they will be well equipped to lead clinical academic and academic palliative care for the future. We welcome applicants undergoing clinical training.
We are seeking innovative, well-organised, dynamic and promising individuals who are motivated to further develop their career and benefit patient care through research into palliative and end-of-life care.
The fellowship supports salary, PhD fees (UK level), and research expenses.
This post will be offered on a fixed term contract until February 2027.
This is a full-time post - 100% full time equivalent.
With the guidance and mentorship of experienced researchers, the PhD Fellows will:
Lead the design, implementation, and dissemination of a research study as agreed with supervisors
Undertake outlined research meeting key deadlines and criteria for progression and leadership skills training
Disseminating research findings and contributing to research impact
Help achieve the aims of Build-Pall and Cicely Saunders Institute research programmes by supporting the delivery, analysis, and dissemination of ongoing work
Actively working with Cicely Saunders International and key team members, and ensuring this is reflected in presentations and meetings
In particular, our two key research interests are below:
Advancing Personalised Treatments to Alleviate Refractory and Chronic Breathlessness in Serious Illness(es).
The Fellow will take advantage of the large databases of clinical trials into breathlessness management (including a world first international trial of repurposing a medicine, mirtazapine, to manage breathlessness, and trials into non-pharmacological treatments, such as neuromuscular electrical stimulation and breathlessness support services) coupled with systematic reviews and meta analysis to: a) better characterise and phenotype breathlessness by the ways it affects patients and their family carers; b) identify the most effective treatments, therapies and interventions for those phenotypes, through network meta-analysis and individual patient response analysis, to support personalised treatment agendas; c) identify and test possible triggers/criteria for access to those treatments and understand how patients and families and clinicians would be able to use these in practice, and support their decision-making, leading to decision support tools; and d) develop content and deliver education to clinicians and patients/families, with decision-support tools embedded into postgraduate education to help guide optimal treatment once breathlessness is identified, based on severity, phenotype and the best aligned treatment/s.
The Fellow is expected to deliver findings to improve breathlessness management and importantly personalise and tailor it better to individuals in need. The resulting education materials and programmes are expected to ensure wide-reaching impact, alongside quality publications, and deliver impact in several sectors – clinicians and healthcare professionals, service organisations, education (medicine, nursing and allied healthcare professionals) national and local policy-makers, NHS organisations, patients and families.
Improving care and symptom management and empowerment for people who are not accessing specialist palliative care services, and their families and those important to them.
The Fellow will analyse data from two international mortality follow-back surveys (a well-established method of collecting views from bereaved relatives and family members, about the last three months of life) and its impact on bereavement and grief. The Fellow will: a) understand successes and gaps in care for people during the last three months of life and importantly their families; which settings or transitions are most challenged (for example home, hospital, etc) and how these influence perceived quality of life and person-centred outcomes; b) identify the different trajectories in the last three months of life, and the points at which clinicians might more easily recognise opportunities to provide intervention (e.g. a symptom deterioration or new level of support from family carers) to inform clinical guidelines; c) co-design educational materials (with relevant clinicians and patient and family representatives) to improve care and evaluate these for wide use by postgraduate clinicians.
This Fellowship is expected to deliver findings to improve the care for millions of people who are not able to access specialist palliative care, by better understanding need, trajectories and how to respond. The resulting education materials will ensure wide impact, alongside quality publications and impact in multiple domains including clinical care, service organisation and policy, education (medicine, nursing and allied healthcare professionals) national and local policy, NHS organisations and patients/families.
The above list of responsibilities may not be exhaustive, and the post holder will be required to undertake such tasks and responsibilities as may reasonably be expected within the scope and grading of the post.
This post will be offered on a fixed term contract for 3 years
This is a full-time post - 100% full time equivalent.
Skills, knowledge, and experience
- A minimum Upper Second-Class degree in health or social sciences, medicine, or related relevant areas
- A commitment to the advancement of palliative and end-of-life care through high-quality research
- Excellent research related computing skills – competent in word processing, familiar with reference management databases, and the foundational competencies to enable the transfer of these skills to packages to support qualitative (e.g., NVivo) and quantitative analysis (e.g. SPSS, STATA, R)
- An ability to work well as part of team, including with other researchers, students, clinical staff, patients and family members
- An ability to work to deadlines and manage and prioritize workloads appropriately
- Flexibility and adaptability
- An ability to grasp new information and learn new skills quickly
- A willingness to travel when required for the project, for example to attend national and international conferences
- Strong numeracy
- Strong communication skills, written and verbal, as evidenced by reports, documents, presentations, with ability to adapt to different audiences
- Commitment to develop self and others
- For clinicians, a healthcare professional qualification, including clinical registration with the appropriate body
- Relevant MSc or equivalent or evidence in research training
- Proven research experience – conducting research studies either independently or as part of a team at any stage, from protocol development to funding application to dissemination, including qualitative and quantitative research methods
- Evidence of completion of research, audit or other projects to a good standard.
Salary dependent on whether successful applicant is clinically trained or not.
This post is covered for UK fees only. Please include in your cover letter a statement detailing that you are either (a) eligible for UK fees or (b) able to pay the difference between UK and overseas fees from other sources.