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Students pitch PhD proposals in Dragon’s Den-style event

Masters students with an interest in pursuing a PhD present research proposal to academics in the School of Health Sciences


The School of Health Sciences (SHS) hosted its inaugural Dragon’s Den: Pitch your PhD Proposal event in late July with great success.

The event, organised by the Centre for Health Services Research, was open to all current students and graduates in Masters-level programmes in the School, specifically targeting those individuals who have an interest in pursuing PhD research.

Three current students on the MRes Clinical Research programme (Ben Beare, Catherine Lawrence, and Simon Dady) and one graduate from MSc in Speech and Language Therapy (Catriona Andrew) participated in the event, following their initial submission of a brief research outline and 90 second video pitch.

Presenters had eight minutes on the podium to pitch, and 12 minutes of demanding questioning from SHS Dragons Professor Jill Francis, Dr Madeline Cruice, Dr Eamonn McKeown and Dr Mauro Laudicella, as well as guest Dragon Dr Bronwen Connolly from Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

Ben Beare, Rotational Senior Physiotherapist from the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, University College London Trust, presented his proposal into investigating the impact of music during exercise in recovery of upper limbs in stroke survivors.

Catherine Lawrence, Specialist Respiratory Physiotherapist, Barts Health NHS Trust, outlined her study on predictors and barriers towards active participation in physiotherapy on critical care wards.

Catriona Andrew, Speech and Language Therapist at Learning Talking, and artist (Drawing for People with Aphasia project), pitched her project on the benefits of learning observational drawing for people with post-stroke aphasia.

Finally, Simon Dady, Clinical Team Leader at London Ambulance Service, presented his proposal on whether the utilisation of air ambulances could improve cardiac patients’ outcomes.

Questioning focused on significance, evidence-base gaps, and study design, and gave the presenters opportunity to draw on their research methodologies learning on their programmes as well as give the audience greater insight into their professional backgrounds.

Presenters will now continue to develop their PhD proposals with the mentoring and supervision from City academic staff, and seek external funding for their future research. Such was the success of the event that it will become a regular occurrence for coming years.

Speaking about the event, Professor Jill Francis, a judge on the day and the Associate Dean for Research in the School of Health Sciences, said:

“In the School we always seek to encourage research in staff and students, and this fantastic event has really helped our Masters students think further about exciting PhD opportunities and the importance of a strong research brief. The experience of presenting research in such a short period of time will help them develop their proposals and also give them a great understanding of how to present such work for funding and other opportunities.”

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