Renewed funding for the School for Primary Care Research

The School for Primary Care Research has received renewed funding, £22 million, from the NIHR for the next five years (2021 - 2026). £10 million has also been awarded by the NIHR Academy to continue our well established career development programme. This demonstrates a confidence in, and a commitment to, the School by the country's largest health and care funding body.

This new phase of the SPCR has an explicit aim to strengthen the primary care research sector more broadly, covering sectors such as community nursing and pharmacy as well as general practice. The research agenda will be driven by the ambition to address the nation’s changing demographics and the corresponding impact on disease burdens and service demands. 

The School congratulates Keele University's Professor Christian Mallen who has been appointed Director for the next phase. We warmly welcome our two new members, primary care departments at the University of Exeter and Queen Mary University of London. 

 "I’m absolutely delighted to have been appointed Director of the NIHR School for Primary Care Research. The renewed membership provides a real opportunity to build on past success whilst extending our remit to work with a broader group of partners.” SPCR Director, Professor Christian Mallen

As a collaborative School, we look forward to strengthening primary care research by covering a wider range of research to incorporate the community nursing and pharmacy sectors. In addition, the new phase of the SPCR is committed to collaborating with institutions beyond School membership such as the Society of Academic Primary Care (SAPC) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP). Keep an eye on our website for forthcoming opportunities to work with the SPCR.
"Over the past 15 years, the NIHR SPCR has been pivotal in raising the profile of academic primary care. I am particularly grateful to Professor Richard Hobbs, outgoing Director, for working so tirelessly to achieve this.”  SPCR Director, Professor Christian Mallen

The School would like to extend a special thank you to our outgoing Director, Professor Richard Hobbs, and our partners at the Universities of Cambridge and Newcastle, for the opportunities we have had to work with you over the past five years. 

Read more about the renewed SPCR here

NIHR In-Practice Fellow wins RCGP award for innovative work

Congratulations to Jung Yin Tsang, GP and NIHR In-Practice Fellow at the University of Manchester who has recently received a GP Specialty Trainee Award 2021 from the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) for original and innovative work undertaken during GP specialty training. Read more

George Lewith Prize Winners 2021

The SPCR holds an annual competition for undergraduate medical students in memory of the eminent clinician, academic and mentor Professor George Lewith. The competition reach is beyond SPCR members and is open to all medical students from across the UK. Congratulations to our 2021 winners, Ryan Jayesinghe from Kings College London and Tabitha Thornton-Swan from University of Oxford, who have been awarded a funded place at the Society of Academic Primary Care (SAPC) Annual Scientific Meeting, being held on the 30 June and 1 July 2021. This award provides our winners with the opportunity to find out more about academic primary care and become involved in research.

Keele Professor awarded prestigious medal for her work to improve the lives of people with mental illness

Congratulations to Keele University's Professor Carolyn Chew-Graham who has been has been awarded a President’s Medal by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, which is awarded to those who have 'contributed to policy, public knowledge, education and meeting population and patient care needs in diverse and challenging circumstances'. Read more

SAPC Prizes and Awards 2021

SAPC are delighted to announce the winners of the Principal Investigator of the year prize and the Medical Student essay prize:

Congratulations to Prof Kate Walters, UCL for winning the Principal Investigator of the year prize 2021. This prize recognises a PI who provides exceptional support, leadership and encouragement for their team through the highs and lows of research, careers and life. 

Congratulations to Andrew MacFarlane, St Andrews and Dundee Medical School, for winning the SAPC Medical Student essay prize 2021.  We received 63 entries and the judges were impressed by the exceptional standard. 
We would also congratulate our 3 highly commended runners up:
Janvi Karia, UCL,
Jennifer Knight, Oxford,
Hamzah Niaz, SGUL

Dr Emily McBride, winner of the SAPC PhD/Doctoral prize 2021 will be presenting at the SAPC ASM 2021 about her PhD.  Read Emily's blog.


Dr Shoba Dawson wins RCGP/SAPC Outstanding Early Career Researcher Award

Dr Shoba Dawson, a Senior Research Associate at the Centre for Academic Primary Care, has won a RCGP/SAPC Outstanding Early Career Researcher Award. The awards are made annually by a panel of esteemed primary care academics to recognise the contributions of early career researchers in advancing the discipline of primary care research. Dr Dawson won in the primary care scientist category in recognition of her work on inclusivity and diversity in patient and public involvement and engagement in primary care research. Read more

Shaping the School’s PPIE Strategy

Over the next few months the SPCR will develop a new Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) strategy. To inform the content of the strategy and future PPIE activities, the School will hold a series of workshops to hear from researchers, public contributors and PPI professionals. If you would like to be informed about participating in a workshop, please email the School’s PPIE Manager, Esther van Vliet (

Register for this event

News from SPCR

Welcome to the Directorate Team

We are pleased to welcome two new members to the Directorate Team, Chris Buckley (Finance and Contracts) and Christina Farrall (Projects and Communications). 

New antimicrobial stewardship out of hours e-learning programme

Health Education England e-Learning for Healthcare (HEE e-LfH) in partnership with the Centre for Academic Primary Care at the University of Bristol, University of Southampton, University of Oxford, and University College London are delighted to launch a new antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) out of hours e-learning programme. The AMS Out of Hours programme resulted from the NIHR School for Primary Care Research Out of Hours Prescribing: Enhancing Communication Project (OPEN), a study about the management of common infections out of hours, on the telephone, in primary care treatment centres and in patients’ homes. Read More

Dr Ingrid Muller, Southampton Primary Care Research Centre
NIHR Clinical Research Network National Specialty Group for Primary Care

Dr Ingrid Muller will be representing SPCR at the NIHR Clinical Research Network National Specialty Group for Primary Care, together with Prof Toby Helliwell from Keele University. The NIHR CRN National Specialty Group for Primary Care, led by Assoc. Prof Phil Evans from Exeter, brings together representatives of the 15 Local Clinical Research Networks and other stakeholders to inform effective research delivery in primary care.

Patient reporting of possible cancer symptoms to GPs fell during first wave of pandemic

The number of patients aged over 50 reporting possible cancer symptoms to their GPs fell during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, a study by researchers at the University of Bristol's Centre for Academic Primary Care has found. The reduction in reporting was most pronounced for common symptoms, which rarely indicate cancer. It was also significant for ‘alarm’ symptoms, which are more likely to indicate cancer in older age groups, though most of the time they don’t. The research was part of the NIHR SPCR funded 'Collecting rapid COVID-19 intelligence to improve primary care response (RAPCI)' project. 

What is Wise GP? The intellectual and scholarly challenge of general practice | British Journal of General Practice

Read more about our SPCR funded WISE internships


News from NIHR

DHSC appoints Professor Waljit Dhillo to the role of Dean of the NIHR Academy

The Department of Health and Social Care has appointed Professor Waljit Dhillo to the role of Dean of the NIHR Academy. He will take up this role in September. You can read more about the appointment here.

Operational priorities unveiled in 'Next Chapter' 

The NIHR has published Best Research for Best Health: The Next Chapter, setting out NIHR’s operational priorities now and into the future.

Updated guidelines for recruiting public members onto Trial and Study Steering Committees

Having public members on your Trial or Study Steering Committee can be hugely beneficial, as they provide a unique stakeholder perspective, or lived experience, into an area of research. New guidelines have been developed, outlining good practice for the recruitment and involvement of public members onto both Trial Steering Committees (TSC), or Study Steering Committees (SSC).



The OPEN project
Prof Geraldine Leydon, and Dr Rebecca Barnes write about the OPEN project and their recent stakeholder event.

NIHR Doctoral Research Training Camp: Preparation for your post-doctoral career
Doctoral Student Kelly Birtwell reflects on her attendance at the virtual NIHR Doctoral Research Training Camp. 

Reflections on reflecting – how to promote diversity in patient and public involvement
Esther van Vliet, Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement Manager at the NIHR School for Primary Care Research (SPCR), writes about how public contribution will benefit from a greater variety of views and backgrounds, and the steps being taken to make this happen.

Shaping the future of clinical research delivery in the UK

The UK government has set out the tangible steps being taken to begin to further strengthen the clinical research ecosystem to capitalise on innovation, be resilient in the face of future healthcare crises and benefit all patients across the UK. 
NIHR is working with a cross-sector partnership, including the NHS, regulators, medical research charities, and life sciences industry, to ensure delivery of this ambitious plan.
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