A student-led organisation to inform medical students about the benefits of careers in clinical research and academic medicine launches today. The National Student Association of Medical Research aims to tackle the worrying decline in the number of doctors pursuing careers in academic research.
Supported by the Wellcome Trust, the new association will establish a collaborative network of societies throughout the country, with each medical school receiving a grant to found a new research society or continue to fund an existing society. This network will enable sharing of ideas and resources, as well as giving students a national voice on issues pertaining to research, academic training and careers.
Commenting on the launch, Honorary President of the Association, Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said: "It is an enormously exciting time for medical science. New tools, such as genomics, advanced imaging and informatics, offer the means to tackle important research questions about human variation in health and disease. But the future of medical research depends above all on future generations of medical researchers. For clinicians, there is no better time to start than at medical school.
"The National Student Association of Medical Research will play an important role in raising awareness of the exciting opportunities in medical research and fostering student researchers."
Students will have access to comprehensive careers advice through the Association's website, with sections explaining academic career pathways, a database of research electives and summer projects, and information on sources of funding for research projects. The site will also feature interviews and will host live question and answer sessions to give interested students access to advice from medical academics at all stages of the career pathway.
Along with the website, the Association plans to hold an annual National Student Conference, giving medical students from around the UK the opportunity to present their research to their peers and hear talks from leading medical academics. The inaugural event is scheduled to take place on 4 February 2012 at the Wellcome Collection Conference Centre in London.
The National Student Association of Medical Research is working closely with the Academy of Medical Sciences, which has similar objectives in promoting academic medicine.
Professor Sir John Bell, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said: "Researchers with medical training provide invaluable insights into disease that delivers outstanding health and wealth benefits for the UK. For this reason, inspiring medical students with the exciting opportunities a research career offers is a vital endeavour. The Academy supports many schemes in this area and we are delighted to see students leading on this sort of initiative."